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Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom #1)

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  31,444 ratings  ·  1,978 reviews
Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification an ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1960)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Best Books of the 20th Century
291st out of 6,000 books — 40,252 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Great American Novel
26th out of 361 books — 609 voters

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Community Reviews

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God, do I hate Rabbit Angstrom! How much do I hate him? If I was in a room with Hannibal Lector, the Judge from Blood Meridian, the Joker from Batman, and Rabbit Angstrom, and someone handed me a gun with only 3 bullets, I'd shoot Rabbit three times.

This is the first book by Updike I've read, and his reputation as a writer was well-earned. I'd had a vague idea that this story was about a former hot shot basketball player struggling to adjust to a regular life. I was completely unprepared for th
Jul 21, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to see teenage angst plus ten years
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list but not Kemper
I'm sorry I think I might have to pause before the start of this review and scream discretely into a pillow:


Phew, that's better, very cathartic. This is yet another book from the 1001 books list which has made me question whether or not the people who write the list actually like people who read books or if they are really secretly intent on torturing us all for their own amusement?

The review w
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Get over it! Pull up your socks and get on with it! Sheez.

Book Circle Reads 96

Rating: 2.5* of five

The Book Description: Penguin's bumf--Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his — or any other — generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual g
bellow's writing blows my mind but rarely touches my heart. a handful of mailer's essays and novels are essential, but it's his guts and brain and balls and heart and the ferocity with which he lived life that's the real inspiration. roth? well, i've made my views on roth very well known in bookface world. and the few updike short stories i've read only convinced me that his elegant & writerly style really bugs the shit out of me.

all of 'em (bellow, mailer, roth, updike) found themselves as
Former high school basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom sells kitchen gadgets called the “MagiPeels” in five and dime stores- “a noble profession.” At 26, Rabbit feels trapped in his marriage to Janice, with whom he has 2-year old son, Nelson. Now, Janice is pregnant again. “She stands up and her pregnancy infuriates him with its look of stubborn lumpiness. Just yesterday, it seems to him, she stopped being pretty.” Like Rabbit, Janice is disillusioned with marriage and attempts to stuff her ...more
You know what would be nice, is if there was a wikipedia for life, and every time you met someone, you could just give it a glance and see if, you know, you really want to be associated with that person.

Sure, it would backfire, it would reveal your prejudices and narrow-mindedness, your circle of friends might become a lot less varied and interesting. On the other hand, you'd never have to fake a conversation about football again, and you could easily avoid the total assholes like Rabbit Angstr
I discovered Rabbit Angstrom and John Updike while sitting in the Intensive Care Waiting Room at a local hospital. My mother languished in a coma for one month before she finally found peace, and I spent most of those days and many of my nights in that waiting room. During much of that time I'd blown through typical waiting room crap like books with plots about overthrowing the government, stories about detectives who were psychoanalysts, stories about psychoanalysts who were detectives, etc. On ...more
On the surface, Rabbit, Run is about a guy who runs around on his son and pregnant wife, and ends up living with a prostitute. Real interesting, right? Actually, yes. Because the characters come to life and they’re struggling with their own moral weaknesses and existential problems -- their problems and interactions are truly believable. So this is an interesting story, because Updike can write, and he pulls it off.

But first, I must explain why my rating is only 3 stars (or, 3 and a half, really
Feb 22, 2014 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
If it's hard to love a book when you dislike the hero, it's harder still when the book leaves you cursing the nature of humanity.

I hate John Updike right now.

I hate him as an idealistic dreamer, for making me remember how ugly we are – all of us humans with our selfish hearts and boring thoughts, our fractious flaws, and our suffocating sense of doom and exceptionalism.

I hate him as a woman, for cringe-worthy moments of misogyny, for the distancing male sexual fixation, and for making me wonder
Rebecca Waller
Apr 11, 2007 Rebecca Waller rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Writers looking for writing inspiration
John Updike has a very non-traditional interpretation of redemption, and you find that in his main character, Harry Angstrom, also known as Rabbit. In this first Rabbit novel, he is 26, and he finds himself in crisis about where his life is headed. I found myself loving Rabbit and sympathizing with him (mostly), but also hating him and hating his choices. As a friend once put it to me, "He is Holden Caulfield grown up." It is a painful and powerful book. The writing is delicious, and I have neve ...more
MJ Nicholls
Something of a masterpiece, this first in the trilogy of five explores the universal themes of domestic humdrummery, fidelity, and the repercussions of discarded dreams. The titular Rabbit is a compelling portrayal of a now somewhat stock character, the coulda-been-a-contender (in this case basketball) bounced into a life of McJobs, dowdy small-town wives, and unwanted children. Updike’s novel is the best depiction of this soap-opera conceit I have read: he transforms every banal scene into some ...more
Jun 02, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers
For the three days since I've finished this book I've been going back and forth about whether this is 5 stars, or 4, or 3. Part of the problem is John Updike himself. Liking him as a writer somehow feels politically incorrect. Even mentioning him in mixed company gets glances, "you're reading HIM?" The Rabbit books have always had an aura of ho hum who cares to me. I'd hear Rabbit blah blah and tune it out like it's hockey. I knew Updike was competent, certainly anyone picking up a random issue ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Essay #48: Rabbit, Run (1960), by John Updike

The story in a nutshell:
(Much of today's recap was culled from Wikipedia, for reasons that are explained below.)

Essentially a perfect novel. Part morality tale, part coming-of-age story, written with a Flaubertian attention to detail and a Nabokovian exuberance and poetic intensity. It's hard not to see this novel as a Job-story, a corrective dose of reality written in the wake of the break(ing)down of the American consumerist dream: the myth-makers' promised land shattered into discreet vignettes of incompatible ideals and rusting physical perfections. Updike has a Shakespearian ability to infuse sophist ...more
Guys are like that. Why blame Updike?
Jun 23, 2008 Yulia added it
Shelves: repelled-by
Damn Updike, I wanted to find an immediate reason to dislike this, but he's so smooth in his text, I have no excuse to not continue reading it: it's very frustrating for us curmudgeons.


Okay, that didn't last long. I refuse to finish this book. I find the prose self-indulgent, the understanding of human nature self-serving, and the protagonist impossible to empathize with. Would reading this book help me understand individuals I find narci

Never have I read a book with a more unlikable main character. Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is a married man with a toddler son who despises his wife and (view spoiler). At least, that’s as much as I know. Maybe (view spoiler). This book is so insufferable I abandoned it at page 134 (out of 264 pages), and I have no
Holy Hannah! I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this one. Actually, this is my first Updike book, but I'm sure it won't be the last. Not that it was a pleasant read, necessarily; it may be the only book I've ever read where all the major characters had serious flaws. Rabbit (Harry Angstrom) is immature, irresponsible, selfish and narcissistic, and those are just his best qualities! He's oversexed, his wife is a frigid drunk, and you don't need a crystal ball to see where this one's h ...more
Since the first time I read this book years ago, I bet I haven't gone 24 hours without thinking about it in some way. It's not my favorite book in the series, but it's the emotionally rawest thing I've ever read. A recurring image in the book is that of things spilling over, appropriate for a novel in which the title character's frustration with his life can no longer be contained. Updike chronicles the caustic results caused by Rabbit's inner restlessness that surfaces, then boils over, when he ...more
Rabbit's a really nuanced character. He's such a dipshit, and he's so unaware of what a dipshit he is.

Authors spend so much time trying to get inside the heads of their characters, right? To figure out how they work. And here's Updike setting himself an incredibly difficult challenge: he has to get us inside Rabbit's head even though Rabbit himself isn't there. He's completely lacking in self-awareness. We want to root for him; he's a likable guy. But we slowly realize that he's got issues, and
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
To those who gave this book bad reviews because they hate Rabbit. YOU"RE SUPPOSED TO HATE RABBIT!!! He is everything bad about post-modern culture and the American dream. Updike's brilliant novel is supposed to spit in your face. It may seem a little dated now but Updike caught the neuroses and turmoil of middle class 20th century American perfectly. I don't know. Maybe we are not even meant to enjoy this novel. Some great novels are not meant to entertain but to inform and enlighten. This is on ...more
I've always hated the sort of "adult literary fiction" which deals with, mainly, unhappy marriages and adultery and gives a picture of a sort of two-dimensional world of unrelenting bleakness where no one is ever just decent to each other. This is the country where Rabbit, Run takes place, and it's always been an unrecognizable country to me, this place where "adult literary authors" live. Perhaps it's just my naturally cheerful and upbeat nature that makes such so-called darkness seem just sort ...more
I confess I haven't read much of John Updike's work. About thirty years ago I flipped through "Couples" for the prurient interest it sparked at its publication. I laughed through "The Witches of Eastwick"--the movie, not the book. But I never read any of Updike's Rabbit Angstrom novels. My well read neighbor who is also a former professor of psychology who taught me History and Systems of Psychology recently told me I had missed out on some fine writing by neglecting Updike, particularly the Rab ...more
Rabbit Angstrom is appropriately named. For one thing, he’s a bit of a hare-brain. But it’s more about how he flits from one matter to another, twitching his nose a few times at something or someone (often a sex partner/object) before moving on to his next passing fancy. At times he’s capable of reflection, though he’s typically at a loss for how forces he misperceives to be random dictate his circumstances. Construing his psyche, he has a rabbit’s concept of the super-ego, i.e., very little. I ...more

"Everybody who tells you how to act has whisky on their breath."

"He wonders, is it just these people I'm outside or is it all America?"

"He wonders why there are so many signs coming back and so few going down."

Rabbit, Run has now taken a very special space on my pretty short list of Greatest American Novels. Pretty high up there. Perhaps if I wasn't raised in Salinas, John Updike may even eclipse John Steinbeck on my favorite author's list.

I have a feeling if I would have read this book at any o
Ron Charles
This is one of my favorite novels of all time.
Why I read it: Well I joined my parents little book club and it was my dad’s choice. He selected three books and told me to pick one of the three and that would be the one that my mom, dad, and I read. I chose this one merely based on the synopsis and hearing good things about Updike being a classic author.

Synopsis: Set in 1959, Rabbit Angstrom, 26 years old and a former basketball star, lives with his pregnant wife and young son. Yet his life and marriage is a melancholy one, one in which he is
dead letter office
oh boy, i have issues with john updike. he has all the goody-goody provincialism that drives me crazy about john irving, without the (debatable) benefit of the quirky plots. check out his motivation for writing Rabbit, Run: "Jack Kerouac’s On the Road came out in 1957 and, without reading it, I resented its apparent instruction to cut loose; Rabbit, Run was meant to be a realistic demonstration of what happens when a young American family man goes on the road – the people left behind get hurt." ...more
I really did not like this book. I really disliked all the characters in this book (except maybe Nelson) and especially hated Rabbit. He started out as a loser and did not learn anything through the story- I hate books with no character growth or depth. The story was just not engaging in the least and felt it was a chore just to finish it (and I only finished it because it was for my book club). I will never read another book by Updike. The only positive thing I can think of is that there were a ...more
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Critical American...: Rabbit, Run by John Updike 3 14 Jul 18, 2014 01:35PM  
Rabbit, Run 20 189 Apr 29, 2014 06:17PM  
philip roth (satires) 2 16 Apr 29, 2014 01:47PM  
Ex Libris: Rabbit, Run - John Updike 18 35 May 21, 2012 07:30AM  
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John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania) 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 hi ...more
More about John Updike...

Other Books in the Series

Rabbit Angstrom (4 books)
  • Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2)
  • Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3)
  • Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4)
Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4) Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3) Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2) The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1) Couples

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“If you have the guts to be yourself, other people'll pay your price.” 117 likes
“Everybody who tells you how to act has whiskey on their breath.” 54 likes
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