Mike's Reviews > Rabbit Redux

Rabbit Redux by John Updike
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Feb 25, 11

Read from February 20 to 24, 2011

Rabbit Angstrom isn't running anymore. After his wife Janice leaves him to move in with Charlie Stavros, a car salesman at her father's car lot, Rabbit is adrift. He and his son, Nelson, now thirteen, are going it alone at their home in the burbs. Enter Jill, a rich runaway from Connecticut complete with Porsche. Rabbit is alone no more. In fact, when Stavros tells Rabbit he's growing tired of Janice, Rabbit's not ready for Janice to come home. Rabbit stands his ground. And he takes chances he never dared to in younger years. Enter Skeeter, an angry young black man who has jumped bail on a drug charge. Because he is a friend of Jill's, Rabbit offers Skeeter sanctuary. Skeeter lives to bite the hand that feeds him. He happily supplies Jill with stronger and more dangerous drugs to gain sexual favors from her in exchange for the next fix. He glories in humiliating Rabbit by cuckolding him openly in his own home. Rabbit, the American patriot, who flies an American Flag decal on his Ford Falcon, wonders why blacks are always so loud on the bus, and a staunch supporter of the war in Vietnam, suddenly begins to find his beliefs turned upside down. And Rabbit is politely told by his suburban neighbors that his harboring a black man who does things in front of open windows with a white girl is not acceptable in the neighborhood. Throw in Rabbit's sister, Mim who has returned home to visit their dying mother. Mim's philosophy is never have the same man more than three times unless it's a good investment. Updike paints a vivid portrait of a changing America in the Vietnam era, rife with conflict between the hawks and the doves, racial tension and the age of a growing sexual revolution. Rabbit returns older, wiser, angrier, and a puzzled participant in American life, so different from the man first introduced in 1960. Rabbit isn't a man you are going to love. However, when you reach the last page of the book you will be pleased to know that Updike brings Angstrom back in "Rabbit is Rich" and "Rabbit at Rest." It's good to know that one day Rabbit rests. Not only Rabbit is drained by the end of his second literary appearance, so is the reader. Why four stars? It's human nature not to turn away from a train wreck. Updike compels us to keep turning the page.
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Reading Progress

02/20/2011 page 29
8.0% "Rabbit doesn't run as fast as he used to. He's 10 years older. He works in the print shop with his father. He's moved to the suburbs. He wonders why his wife works so late at her father's car lot each night. The talk is she's stepping out on him. Harry puts Salisbury Steak TV dinners into the oven for himself and his son Nelson, now 13. He wonders why the dinner contains gum arabic. Isn't that an eraser?"
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