Andrea Mullarkey's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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Aug 02, 2012

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Read in September, 2011

John Updike’s Rabbit series follows Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom from his mid-20s as a young father living in Brewer, Pennsylvania to his retirement 30 years later. In the first book he is looking for a way out of his lackluster life. His marriage, his children, his job, and his family all pale in comparison to his memories of being the star of his high school basketball team. His desire for a brighter life drive him to questionable decisions which have bad consequences. In the end he is back near where he started, but no better off.

Subsequent books in the series have a similar arc. Harry is 10 years older but not much wiser each time. He continues to long for the light of his glory days and so he does things which cause problems. In each book there is a pivotal bad choice, usually related to a woman, and the consequences are predictably traumatic. But in no respect does Harry take the opportunity to learn from these mistakes. As a reader I had difficulty sympathizing with this man who complained about the stagnation of his life but couldn’t let go of his earlier self. Nor could I sympathize with the anemic women Updike wrote into Rabbit’s life. It probably didn’t help that Morey does such a poor job with the women’s voices. But I do think that Updike was effective in capturing a slice of the world at the various points in time of the books. These are contemporary classics and they regularly come up on banned books lists so I am glad I read them. But when the end of Rabbit At Rest came, I was quite frankly relieved.

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