Shane's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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's review
Mar 25, 2009

really liked it
Read in April, 2009

Updike certainly turns out the anti-hero in Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom, a misogynistic 26-year old ex-basketball player who hasn't grown up. Love, for Harry, ebbs away with every ejaculation and is restored only when his reservoir’s fill up. Yet women fall for him, forgive him, hate him and hate themselves for their vulnerability, while Ha foil, the Rev Jack Eccles, who is truly on a mission to save souls, is despised by his wife Lucy. And yet it was the Eccles's of this world, the organizational men (and women), who built post-war America. I wonder how this book was received when it first came out.

Updike was also lucky to be writing this novel before the literary writing classes and editors became more established in the land. The book is loaded with the how-not-to's that contemporary literary courses teach us: word repetitions, tense changes, sudden point-of-view shifts, first person/third person confusion, unnecessary adverbs, run-on sentences, lack of punctuation, multiple pronouns in a sentence referring to different characters and confusing the reader...the list goes on. Some scenes run forever and Updike is anal (pardon the pun) on detail, even when he goes to great pains to disguise the "unnatural" sex acts that Rabbit demands of his women. And yet he was able to hold my attention with his snappy dialogue, with dramatic scenes such as Janice's alcoholic misadventure with her baby, and with dysfunctional characters such as Harry and Jack.

I got the impression that, like his protagonist, Updike was running free of his contemporaries, the critics and the editors, writing this book and determined to preserve his distinct voice (whether we like it or not). Perhaps the title of this book should have been "Updike, Run.”
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Denis (last edited Mar 26, 2009 05:50AM) (new) - added it

Denis Hi Shane,

I'm looking forward to this one, too. In case you missed his interview on CBC's Writers & Company, you can still catch it here:

But only for a very short while as it's about to be archived and then inaccessible, I think. The shows disappear after 4 weeks. This one's a rebroadcast fron 1996 and replayed in February, shortly after his death.

Shane Thanks Denis - I will listen. I have to download RealPlayer first - but once I have attended to that minor detail I will enjoy not only this interview but all the others listed on there - thanks for sending me this link. I hope to have my own interview podcast shortly on Authors Audio ( - will post the link on my Goodreads profile when it is ready.

message 3: by Denis (new) - added it

Denis Great! I'll be keeping an eye out for yours, too.

message 4: by John (new)

John Shane, I thought you should know I updated the review of THE TENANTS. As I told you, what I posted a couple of days ago turned out incomplete.

As for RABBIT, my favorite in the sequence is ...IS RICH. But this original packs quite a punch, no question.

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