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Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom #2)

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,717 Ratings  ·  542 Reviews
The assumptions and obsessions that control our daily lives are explored in tantalizing detail by master novelist John Updike in this wise, witty, and sexy story. Harry Angstrom--known to all as Rabbit, one of America's most famous literary characters--finds his dreary life shattered by the infidelity of his wife, Janice. How he resolves or further complicates his problems ...more
Paperback, 404 pages
Published 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1971)
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M. Alex Goldsmith It's not necessary, but will help you understand the nuance of the relationships and many of the references. This is a great book and you'll probably…moreIt's not necessary, but will help you understand the nuance of the relationships and many of the references. This is a great book and you'll probably like it. If you like it enough to want to read books 3 and 4, reading the first one will have helped a lot.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ben
A year ago I vowed to myself (and you, if you had read my review of Rabbit, Run) that I’d read a Rabbit novel annually until I’m done with the four-novel series; the idea being that I could look back and see how I’d changed in the past year, comparing the changes in my life with those incurred by Rabbit. But it’s the same shit different day for me over here, ya hear? And I’m not turning this into some kind of self centered review about me-me-me. Instead, I’m going to (eventually) talk about the ...more
MJ Nicholls
Mar 15, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, merkins
This book is where the Angstroms became the Osbournes, without the cracking heavy metal catalogue. Or, as other reviewers have pointed out, it’s where Updike tackles Big Questions of American politics and culture within his sexy literary soap opera framework. I also see I was wrong in attempting to empathise with Angstrom—he’s clearly being set up as a Great White Dope, where racist and sexist poison accumulates and infects those unfortunate enough to fall under his sway. So we open with Rabbit’ ...more
Moira Russell
Apr 14, 2010 Moira Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: underwhelmed
This is actually cut and pasted from a long comment on someone else's review! It focuses primarily on this book, altho there are some sentiments in it I'd apply to all the Rabbit stories.

***

warning! terribly tl;dr

Ben said:
Updike swung for the fences; he wanted to represent the 60s in one novel; but it was like he didn’t really immerse himself in it; like he was trying to write about it from the outside, as an observer. Novels written by the “observer writer” can work, of course; but typically, I
...more
Greg
Jan 18, 2009 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wrote this review a few years ago for a different site. I called it Rabbit's A Reactionary Racist. It's been edited a little bit from it's original context.

What is the novel about? Well it’s about Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom: a man in his early thirties, with a wife, a son and a job on the verge of being made obsolete by technology. In the first novel, Rabbit ran away from his wife and young child. The novel dealt with the way he is pulled between his freedom and responsibility. In Rabbit’s secon
...more
Steve
Apr 15, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Weirdly, as I read the last page, it struck me that this book, which is jammed with late-60s turmoil, is at heart a book about the sacredness or, perhaps better, the ongoing bond of marriage. Given all the (graphic) infidelity, that may be surprising, but I was reminded of the theological thread that ran through the earlier Rabbit, Run. In Redux, it's more muted, but early on we get a glimpse of the religious component as Rabbit admits to sometimes praying on the bus. Why not at home? I'm not su ...more
Fabian
May 27, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the decade of the ’60s, “Rabbit Redux” is a bit tricky. Wee complications arise in so liberal a landscape, especially if the everyman in the novel is absurdly conservative. Add then a haze proliferated by drugs (weed and alcohol and pills) in the mix, and what you have left over is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, older but none the wiser. This time around, ten years after the first Rabbit novel, Janice, Harry’s sad, insipid wife runs away, leaving Rabbit with the kid. Add then too the elements tha ...more
Gabriel
Jan 17, 2014 Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es 1969 y han pasado diez años desde los acontecimientos que remecieron la vida de Harry “Conejo” Angstrom, quien a los treinta y seis años se ha convertido en un oscuro linotipista que trabaja con su padre y se toma un trago con él al final de la jornada. Ahora es un ciudadano anónimo, un estadounidense común y corriente, muy lejano ya al héroe del baloncesto que fue en la secundaria. El sistema se lo ha tragado hace mucho tiempo (de nada le ha valido correr) y el parece bastante conforme con e ...more
Rose
Feb 02, 2016 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When we last saw Rabbit Angstrom, he was trying to run out on his wife at the funeral of their baby daughter, having just made, quite casually, a stunningly insensitive remark. He still has pretty much the same opinion of his wife's intellect and parenting skills, but it's ten years later, and Rabbit has joined his father in the printing business -- he's a lithographer -- earning a skilled, blue collar paycheck everyday, ending the day with a couple of cocktails with dad, and going home to be a ...more
Conor
I guess this didn't take me quite as long as I imagined, but it sure felt like it took a while.

I mentioned in my review of Rabbit, Run that I was more curious about how this book/remainder of the tetrarchy could be pulled off than enamored of the characters or storyline or even really the writing. As such, I resolved to read the rest when I had the chance, but was in no special hurry to do so.

Fast forward about a month and I was walking around SoHo on a particularly beautiful day. Contrary to my
...more
Patrick
There are some wonderful sentences in this book - the opening line "men emerge from the little printing plant at four sharp, ghosts for an instant, blinking until the outdoor light overcomes the look of constant indoor light clinging to them" is amongst my favourites. Over a whole novel, though I start to find it a bit tiresome and over-written.

For me, its of interest mainly as a document of changing times and the upheavals of the 1960s as seen from the point of view of an unremarkable and diffi
...more
Noah Dropkin
Jan 04, 2009 Noah Dropkin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel in the Rabbit tetraology, written in 1971. John Updike is without a doubt one of the best novelists of the past 50 years. Some authors like Updike and Philip Roth write with such ease it is obvious when you read their prose.

Ten years after the first Rabbit novel, this book is about many things - marital infedilty and the challenges of middle-age, the 1960s, Vietnam and of course the furher development of Harry Angstrom, an anti-hero whose best times seem to be behind him
...more
Stewart
Mar 16, 2009 Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What makes Rabbit one of the most compelling characters in American literature? By all objective accounts he is scum of the earth, a man who ought to be jailed for spousal abuse and child neglect, not to mention his serial adultery, drug abuse, racial epithets and harboring of a fugitive. Yet Rabbit remains a sympathetic figure, because through him Updike creates a mirror; Rabbit's considerable flaws do not sink inward, as part of his character, but bounce outward back at the society he chafes a ...more
Bookslut
Mar 18, 2015 Bookslut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so much better than I dared hope. Maybe I'm finally mature enough to read John Updike! It lost me a little during some of the long conversations between Rabbit and Skeeter, and I often felt like 'Rabbit, what are you doing?!?', but I really liked it generally and am no longer dreading the two prize-winners in the series. I also thought it was neat that I read the first Rabbit book when I was around 24 or 25, when Rabbit himself is around that age, and read the second when I was 34 and R ...more
Liz
Aug 06, 2007 Liz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who HAVE to read things through in order
Shelves: library
Ugh. I'm committed to reading these through, but this had better be the low point of the series (ahem, tetralogy). Updike is compelled to use the word "cunt" as often as possible, and the Skeeter character is boring and obnoxious. The third section dragged (all those quotes from "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas"?!) and there wasn't enough of Updike actually writing the beautiful descriptions of landscape and feeling that he's capable of.
Lars Williams
Jun 14, 2012 Lars Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Compared to 'Rabbit, Run', the second book in the Rabbit tetralogy is a lot harder to love. For a start, it's infused with casual misogyny and racism, which probably reflects the time it was written as much as the time in which it was set. The character of Rabbit is morally ambiguous to a much greater extent than in the first book, although as the story develops this moral ambiguity becomes more or less the point - he's a weak character as well as a product of his time, yet he does manage to tr
...more
Tim
Dec 31, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Updike's second novel about Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, far from being a dated, passe update of the protagonist's life, is instead a sharp, resonant snapshot of its times. Published just two years after the time in which it was set, 1969, "Rabbit Redux" tackles and moves among the era's issues and defining moments: race, the space program, drugs, the Vietnam War, modern angst. It also shows Updike's ability to make a lot out of a little, plot-wise.

"Rabbit, Run" was very good, not great; "Rabbi
...more
Gregg
Apr 20, 2009 Gregg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as satisfying as "Rabbit, Run." Too sexually graphic for even my taste. The politics wandered aimlessly, and the characters were way too broad, or even cliched, for any kind of empathy on my part. Yet I kept reading it. So Updike must know something I don't about the meaning of Midwestern life.

Rabbit Angstrom's adventures pick up after the first novel: he's back with his wife, but they separate. He's about to lose his job. He shacks up with a hippie girl of sorts and gets mixed up in
...more
Neil Pierson
Along with all the excitement and change, there were a lot of lousy things about the late 60s: Viet Nam, Nixon, racial conflict, addictive drugs, sexual freedom that sometimes felt more obligatory than thrilling... .

Well, they're all here in this book if you want to revisit them. If I were you, I'd pass. As a great voice of the 60s sang, "I'd have to be some kind of natural-born fool to want to pass that way again."
Greg Z
Jul 21, 2015 Greg Z rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Yes, angst is right, page after page of it. And, to make matters worse, this book has not aged well at all. Most of "Redux" is preachy 1960's politics and the racism and xenophobia on display make this a tough read. Even if one is able to credit Updike with ranting against these issues, the experience of reading this book is so unpleasant I can't recommend it to anyone. And I found some scenes simply unbelievable (good grief, why not close the curtains of the house when the neighbors complain?). ...more
Jimmy
Jul 02, 2015 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm finding that I'm not much a fan of the themes that Updike is writing about in the Rabbit Angstrom series of books; and I'm finding that all of the characters in these novels aren't all that likable or admirable. But … I also find Updike to be a masterful writer. In my quest to read through all the Pulitzer fiction winners (which include the last two Rabbit Angstrom novels), I decided that I needed to read the tetralogy from the beginning. So, Rabbit Redux is the second of the four novels, wh ...more
Travis
Jun 06, 2015 Travis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“Miserable novels bore me. I don’t want to read a miserable book about misery.” —Barry Hannah
This is obviously not a miserable book in terms of quality, but it is most definitely about misery and I'm just immature enough to need redemption to make the misery worth my time. Updike isn't any less amazing and ill definitely finish the series, but there as just a bit too much depravity for me to enjoy or recommend.
David
Oct 10, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
Harry's not very happy with the fact that he's not dying in the Vietnam War and he's taking it out on everybody. Same victim as last time. Nelson's a rock!

Bits:

"If he's too short for basketball, then baseball. Anything, just to put something there, some bliss, to live on later for a while."

"Their faces have an edgy money look:"

"'Oh those fucking poor Indians,' Harry says. 'What were we supposed to do, let 'em have the whole continent for a campfire site?' Sorry, Tonto.
'If we had, it'd be in bett
...more
James F
This was a real disappointment after Rabbit, Run. Updike's strength is in characterization, and that is where he most fails here; while Rabbit and the other white, older characters are still fairly realistically portrayed, the younger and Black characters (especially Skeeter and Jill) seem to be based on media stereotypes and imagination rather than experience and observation.

The novel is mainly about the politics of the Sixties, and the political descriptions also are very superficial and based
...more
Richard
Rabbit Redux offers a peek into Harry/Rabbit Angstrom's life during the summer of '69 -- some 10+ years after we left Harry running from his infant daughter's funeral -- and I found it to be downright depressing. While time may improve fine wine, it hasn't improved the life of Harry or anyone in his sphere. Gone is the spark that set Harry off in his search of that undefined something in Rabbit Run, and he's become a surly curmudgeon long before he should. But who can blame him? The decade of th ...more
Hollis
Updike is often mentioned as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and the Rabbit books are described as masterpieces of American literature. Am I missing something? As far as I could tell, it was a soap-opera plot mixed in with some tasteless sex scenes, an excessive amount of detail and descriptive language that is so excessively ornate it frequently becomes tawdry and nonsensical. That seems to impress the critics, but it doesn't impress me.

This book is also an opportunity for
...more
Lawrence
There are parts of this book that make you want to jump off a bridge and maybe even slit your wrists on the way down--but in a good way. I think.

Rabbit Redux is an intense, microscopic view of the disintegration of marriage and other institutions and values in 1969 as white men go to the moon, black men riot in the cities, and both die by the thousands in Vietnam. The main character, a blue-collar worker in a dying industrial Pennsylvania town, tries like hell to understand the chaos around him,
...more
B. Glen Rotchin
At the beginning of the summer I set myself the goal of polishing off the first four of John Updike's five Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom novels. As I near the end of book #2, Rabbit Redux, I might have to admit defeat. I don't think I'll make it past this one, for now. I wasn't expecting light summer fare, but these novels drag. They are virtually plotless, completely character and relationship driven. The aspect that rankles most is the uncanniness of the main character, by which I mean that he is bo ...more
Rick
Aug 19, 2009 Rick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
At the end of Rabbit Redux is a wonderfully affecting reconcilation between two life- and self- battered lovers that is beautifully observed and true to life at its most poignant. Clear proof that Updike is not just a master stylist but a gifted observor and chronicler of life’s disappointments and consolations. Before that, however, is a manic-depressive narrative of less than credible events and choices linked to the emblematic turmoil of the 60s in ways that leave the reader disconnected from ...more
Lucy
Mar 03, 2011 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
In this second part of the series, you want to kill Rabbit a little bit less. He is still the same guy that lives on reactions rather than actions, but his mind has also never been more interesting. It seems that this is the novel in which Updike becomes aware that he is in the process of writing a chronicle of global growth seen through the eyes of America, or the quintessential American. It's funny how this kind of growth can seem stunted and all-too-quick at the same time. I think the book's ...more
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John Hoyer Updike was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more
More about John Updike...

Other Books in the Series

Rabbit Angstrom (4 books)
  • Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1)
  • Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3)
  • Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4)

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“That's the trouble with caring about anybody, you begin to feel overprotective. Then you begin to feel crowded.” 57 likes
“We were all brought up to want things and maybe the world isn't big enough for all that wanting. I don't know. I don't know anything” 18 likes
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