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Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
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Rabbit Is Rich (1981)

by John Updike

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: "Rabbit" Series (3)

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English (22)  Italian (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
This novel was a little better than Rabbit Redux. It was more focused on the social dynamics of a dysfunctional familial relationship- in the veneer of the "Rabbit" family. I viewed it as an intimate character study of an individual and his family and I believe herein lies the strength of the novel in full. There were parts that were a bit long and overdone, but overall it was plausible (I suppose) as the work of fiction that it was setting out to be. Updike is an odd writer, that much I am assured of, but with everything that happens in this novel, I do believe that he's managed to capture something (even if it is fragments of a tattered life that is beset by difficulties and decadence.)

3 stars. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Jun 18, 2019 |
There is a brief passage near the end of Rabbit Is Rich that does a wonderful job of underscoring one of the novel’s main themes: ”Life. Too much of it, and not enough. The fear that it will end some day, and the fear that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday.” Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, author John Updike’s irrepressible mid-20th century Everyman, has reached middle age, relatively unscathed by the travails of his earlier years. He and his wife Janice have settled into a routine that their relative affluence affords them in their Pennsylvania suburb in the late 1970s. But Rabbit finds himself still running—searching is probably a better word—for whatever it is he doesn’t have: improved business prospects, resolution about the status of a long-lost daughter, a better relationship with his son, more sex (especially with his friend’s much younger wife), and a more reliable golf swing. In short, he has reached the point in life where he has acquired much of what he wants, but remains unsatisfied with all that he has.

The third of four novels focusing on Angstrom, Rabbit is Rich is ultimately an unblinking character study of a man who has reached his 40s, with all the successes, failures, frustrated hopes, and dreams still to be realized that this age implies. When he is not fretting over selling Toyota automobiles—Harry’s day job, courtesy of his overbearing mother-in-law—he spends most of his time drinking and playing golf with his buddies, thinking about sex, worrying about current economic conditions, reminiscing about the past and contemplating death, or feuding with his son, who has his own secrets to protect. I found Updike’s prose to be precise, insightful, and often very funny. The author was a keen observer of what it meant to be both middle class and middle age during that era and the story he tells here is one that is both richly detailed and compelling. It is also a tale that is occasionally vulgar and profane, but never beyond the bounds of what befits the character. After reading this novel, you may not like Rabbit, in all his self-absorbed and clueless glory, but you will definitely have a better understanding of what makes him tick. ( )
  browner56 | Jun 1, 2019 |
Rabbit is Rich by John Updike is a masterpiece. Some think it is his best novel. Not having read much Updike I cannot say. The protagonist, Harry, aka Rabbit, Angstrom is a proxy for Archie Bunker in All in the Family. He is hysterical and as unpolitically correct as imaginable.He says whatever comes to his mind, especially about Jews and blacks, but no one is spared.Rabbitt is obsessed with sex. Sex is on every page. I was surprised considering when it was published.Updike has out-Roth-ed Roth.
The book is actually quite funny and I found myself frequently laughing out loud. It makes me want to read the other Rabbit books but I can't imagine that they are as funny as this one. It is a novel of manners and captures the small town bourgeoisie and the period of the 1970s very well. I strongly recommend this book. I am told his short stories are particularly good so I will try them. ( )
  SigmundFraud | Sep 11, 2017 |
Rabbit is entering middle age having bought into the American system and getting rich. Rabbit continues to be shocking in his frankness of approach to his life. ( )
  brakketh | Dec 16, 2016 |
This is the continuing story of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom. For those of you that did not read "Run Rabbit" and "Rabbit Redux", I strongly suggest you do so… now. Otherwise, you will never understand what actually makes Harry ‘run’.

"Rabbit Redux" ended in 1971 with the hippie era. Now it is 8 years later. Harry and Janice managed to salvage their broken marriage. Harry is running a Toyota Dealership and son Nelson is away at college. On the surface things look good, but there are problems... major problems.

The dealership is owned by Harry’s mother-in-law and his wife Janice, so all major decisions are in their hands.
In addition, Nelson has gotten his girlfriend pregnant and wants to drop out of school to join the family business. And if Harry is not enough of an unlikable character… Nelson is even worse. A chip off the old block and then some, Nelson has a sense of entitlement that even Harry never had. And it doesn’t help matters that Nelson is rude, unkind, selfish, and despises his father.

Meanwhile, Harry is 46 years old and going through a mid-life crisis. By today’s standards 46 is generally an enjoyable age, but not for Harry in 1979. All the vibrant, enlightened Baby Boomers are coming of age and Harry is not one of them. He sees himself as being tied down- married to a woman he never fully loved- having married her only because she was pregnant. And Janice is just not enough to make Harry happy. When Janice left him- back in Rabbit Redux- he had no self confidence and ended up bedding down with an 18 year old hippie child. It was not for love but mostly to boost his ego and to spite Janice. And now he is obsessed with sex. Harry is constantly thinking about sex, making metaphors about sex, and analyzing the physical attributes of every female with whom he comes in contact.

What makes this series unique is that the story revolves around the domestic issues of Harry Angstrom’s entire adult life… his family, their careers, health issues, relationships with each other, family members and friends… all from the male perspective. From the trivial details of daily life to the major life defining moments, Updike covers every detail.

The author cleverly weaves into the story lots of current events of that year: politics, economics, world news, entertainment, and sports: the Carter administration, gas shortages, Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal, the Iranian hostage situation, inflation and the run on gold, real estate development, and the new wealth that afforded Caribbean vacations, Japanese electronics and foreign cars.

"Rabbit is Rich" has a deep, more substantial style- less poetic and flowery metaphors and more blunt and to the point prose. And the plot moves along at a brisk pace. But the sex? Spare me the details… please! Once again there was never anything romantic, tender, beautiful or passionate about Harry’s sex life. It was mostly sad and degrading. What is with that? Perhaps it is a result of Harry’s resentment due to the emasculation of having to work for his wife and mother-in-law. Or maybe he’s never actually experienced real love. Whatever the case, Harry’s obsessive daydreams about sex seem out of proportion with all his other concerns in life.
Having no other experience with John Updike’s writing other than the Rabbit series, I am unable to determine if it is just a characteristic of Rabbit, or Updike’s own personal idiosyncrasy.

John Updike definitely created a memorable cast of characters you won’t soon forget.

Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer. ( )
1 vote LadyLo | Feb 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Rarely has a single character been so faithfully followed for so many years by so many readers. Rarely has anyone written like John Updike. As a writer, he dared his fellows to be perceptive, to be honest, and above all to be specific. How large his footprint, how ghosted.
 

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Updikeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Veldhuizen, DorienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'At night he lights up a good cigar, and climbs into the little old 'bus, and maybe cusses the carburetor, and shoots out home. He mows the lawn, or sneaks in some practice putting, and then he's ready for dinner."
GEORGE BABBITT of the 'Ideal Citizen'
The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur...
WALLACE STEVENS
'A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts'
Dedication
First words
Running out of gas, Rabbit Angstrom thinks as he stands behind the summer-dusty windows of the Springer Motors display room watching the traffic go by on Route 111, traffic somehow thin and scared compared to what it used to be.
Quotations
Rather than face who it is, he runs. (p. 113)
Rain, the last proof left to him that God exists. (p. 125)
...all the souvenirs of the dead bristle with new point, with fresh mission. (p. 184)
He enunciates with such casual smiling sonorousness that his sentences seem to keep travelling around a corner after they are pronounced. (p. 191, of the Rev. Archie Campbell)
As always when he sees his son unexpectedly Harry feels shame . . . Run, Harry wants to call out, but nothing comes . . . (pp. 240-41)
Last words
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449911829, Paperback)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
 
The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, ten years after the events of Rabbit Redux, has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as the chief sales representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national self-confidence. Nevertheless, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last—until his wayward son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to the lot. New characters and old populate these scenes from Rabbit’s middle age as he continues to pursue, in his zigzagging fashion, the rainbow of happiness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:11 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

His son's return and reminders of a former romance threaten "Rabbit" Harry Angstrom's comfortable new prosperity.

» see all 5 descriptions

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