Aubrey's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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Nov 05, 2011

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Read from November 11 to December 05, 2011

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 not happy in. His wife smokes and drinks to deal with the stressors of having young kids. What does Rabbit do to deal? He runs. He leaves his pregnant wife and son and runs. From there the story unravels and tells what he does after he leaves.

Let me start by saying that when I read the first fifty pages of Rabbit, Run I was ready to put it down. Why? I had trouble reading it. Updike’s work is riddled with description after description. Heck there are words describing words describing words describing words. You get my point. He also has a very old fashioned writing style, in that he does not let the events speak for the work (as there are very few events in this book) but he lets the feelings speak for it. So instead of packing the book with event after event after event he fills it with feelings, sights and sounds. That is why it is a rather slow paced book. Yet that is also why the characters are very memorable. In fact Rabbit is said to be Updike’s most memorable character. Give me a few months and I’ll begin to forget names of characters I read but I will never forget Rabbit.

Particularly in the beginning, but also throughout, I struggled with the many descriptions. I felt like Updike would get carried away with his descriptions and page long paragraphs. He's also not a fan of chapters, which I had to adjust to. With that said, there were moments that made the book grow on me. It was a really odd relationship with this book because I felt no sympathy with the characters, particularly Rabbit and his wife Janice. I don’t think this has a thing to do with me not being a mom but the fact that they both made poor decisions and it’s hard for me to have sympathy for people who do that. Though I did not feel sympathy for them Updike did make me feel connected to them. It was hard not to be, due to the way he described things. I can see why many readers reference Updike as an inspiration to writers. Writers can learn a lot from his rambling descriptions, but more the way he constructs them. He’s very precise and poetic in his construction, and rather magical at times.

If anything this book is about the day to day struggles of life. That is possibly why it was boring on occasion because often times the things we do are boring. That was where I struggled with the book the most and yet admired Updike for it. He didn’t glamorize the writing with all kinds of events that likely would not happen in life. He kept it real and told stories that could relate to many people. That is what makes him a great writer because he wrote his sentences in a way that many would have trouble writing, when analyzing day to day life.

Dialogue was the one thing I felt was lacking. I think I’ve emphasized Updike’s love for descriptions, so that leaves little room for dialogue. He had dialogue sure, but it was interspersed in his long paragraphs and just minimal all together. I love dialogue and so I really missed that and craved more.

I gave this book three stars because I liked it, I appreciate Updike’s craft but only a three because I felt the descriptions sometimes got excessive to the point of boredom and left me no reason to care for the characters.

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11/18/2011 page 50
18.0%
08/26/2016 marked as: read
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