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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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2,170275,098 (3.91)114
Harry Angstrom has come to enjoy prosperity as the Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors. The rest of the world may be falling to pieces, but Harry's doing all right. That is, until his son returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot.



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» See also 114 mentions

English (26)  Italian (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
More of the same from Updike with two exceptions: less happens and there’s more graphic sex. Quite why this novel, of the three Rabbit novels so far, won the most awards including the Pulitzer is beyond me.

My conclusions that Rabbit and his ilk are a complete waste of human space were confirmed by this. How many people are there out there whose lives are of no benefit to anyone except themselves and to the detriment of everyone around them?

No one in this novel is capable of loving anyone around them or even aware that they lack the ability. Instead, they carry on with facade and distortion as if life really is all about their petty concerns.

Rabbit has grown fat, in more ways than one, on the proceeds of the Toyota showroom inherited from his now deceased father-in-law. He is estranged from his son, emotionally estranged from his wife, and still beset by fantasies of the sexual grass being greener.

Updike must have thought all women were simply objects. He describes all of them in terms of their bodily appearance and, as far as I can tell from these three novels, created Rabbit to somehow legitimise lust. Even when he does create a character who supposedly loves Rabbit, his expression of that is for her to take him away during a vacation swingers night and have him perform anal sex. How facile do you have to be for this to be what you consider an expression of love?

So, in conclusion, having read the first three books, while Updike can write great prose, he turned his skill to rendering lives that were entirely unworthy of our focus. Either there’s some genius irony there and that’s exactly the point, or these three books are equally unworthy. I think it actually may be both. ( )
  arukiyomi | Aug 23, 2020 |
The third novel in the Rabbit Angstrum series, Harry is middle aged, his son is away at college and he and Janice live with Janice’s mother. Harry is running Springer Motors and believes he is owner but really, he works for his mother-in-law and his wife. Harry has become obsessed with money. His son can’t make a decision and appears to be irresponsible (a lot like Harry) and he is also obsessed with the daughter he had with Ruth.
Rabbit is Rich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1982 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1981. Of the three that I have read so far, I liked this the least and I like Harry the least in this book. There is way too much sex talk and thoughts on Harry’s part and the words used are offensive. What Updike does so well is capture time. In this book, the reader revisits the first oil shortage, Carter administration, eighties inflation. It just wasn’t a very interesting time as the previous book but still a walk down memory lane. Harry does redeem himself with the last sentences of the book when he is holding his granddaughter. ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 11, 2020 |
I am on a mission to complete the Rabbit series , although I often do not like him.
Updike's books in this series are a mirror of the times.
Harry is an every man whose dreams, desires and foibles reflect those of the mainstream culture of the time. (So perhaps that is what I sometimes do not like!)
I find some of the sex scenes overly descriptive. Rabbit is obsessed.
Somehow, Updike keeps me interested in his fate, and surprises me with Rabbit's redeeming qualities. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
3rd in Rabbit series by John Updike are very funny and politically observant. Must read. ( )
  atufft | Jul 5, 2019 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (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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'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...
'A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts'
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.
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)
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Harry Angstrom has come to enjoy prosperity as the Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors. The rest of the world may be falling to pieces, but Harry's doing all right. That is, until his son returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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