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Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels

(Rabbit Angstrom #1-4)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,546 ratings  ·  147 reviews
When we first met him in Rabbit, Run (1960), the book that established John Updike as a major novelist, Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom is playing basketball with some boys in an alley in Pennsylvania during the tail end of the Eisenhower era, reliving for a moment his past as a star high school athlete. Athleticism of a different sort is on display throughout these four magnifice ...more
Hardcover, 1520 pages
Published October 17th 1995 by Everyman's Library (first published October 17th 1994)
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 ·  1,546 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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There are books that have a reputation, that many people seem to enjoy, but with which you can find no connection at all. When I finished reading these Rabbit books I wondered why I had persisted. Looking at it as a whole I have the impression that the author was writing magical realism from a strictly realistic perspective - he appears to be making broad statements about the experience of for example race, or adulthood, as felt by a certain slice of the US population specifically a white, male ...more
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This small tome contains books 1 to 4 of the Rabbit series and I spent half a year with John Updike’s characters, reading other novels between each instalment and eventually coming back to Harry Angstrom and his family. With absolute delight, as it turns out.

Other reviewers on Goodreads have complained about Rabbit’s lack of morals. While I can see how the protagonist can rub off people the wrong way, at the same time I can’t imagine how a reader wouldn’t feel privileged to gain so c
Liza Martin
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Before embarking on the journey through Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's life, I read a lot of the reviews on the first novel, "Rabbit, Run," and many readers expressed a strong dislike for the main character.

To all of those who disliked or even hated Harry: You don't know good literature when you read it!

Sure, Harry is no hero, but he's not an anti-hero, either. You don't like him throughout the series, but you can't hate him, either. He's just a normal man who makes mistakes,
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After a particularly unengaging two years of study I promised myself an extravagance – a big novel, for no reason. Something that I had been meaning to read for ten years or so, something american now. (Living in a colony, most of my novels have been british.) The last American novels were more than twenty years ago, Moby Dick and Lolita (American?). I picked the Rabbit Tetralogy.

Individually the books are enjoyable, immersionable even. But reading in a continuous uninterrupted seque
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Updike's Rabbit Angstrom novels really got to me. When I finished the last one, I put it down and burst into tears. I wrote to Updike to tell him that, and he wrote back.
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Although it took me five months to complete, I've enjoyed every minute of it. Following the life of Rabbit Angstrom has become one of my favorite literary experiences. The themes of sex, ego, race, religion, family, and drugs influence the character through every part of this four-book series. Updike's writing is best displayed in these works; his descriptions of suburban life in Pennsylvania are easy to picture and relate to, especially as someone who grew up in the area as I did. Yet there are ...more
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Fifteen-hundred-and-sixteen pages later and I wish John Updike had written more. This is an amazing achievement of a story and I love every page of it.

In 2005 I was staying in Italy with a recovering professor of mine. I think when you are twenty-three and you're touring Italy with a girlfriend you should have a grand old party. But I ended up staying at Unsworth's house for a week solid. They even insisted that we return the rental car and they would arrange to get us to Assissi and Perugia
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I read these four novels in July and August of this year. Of the four, I think "Rabbit Run" is the best with the final "Rabbit at Rest" a close second. I could feel outside influences at work with the middle two; therefore they seemed more reactive in nature than original visions. Originally, the publishers refused Updike's first "Rabbit Run" submission as too graphic: readers apparently were deemed too sensitive in 1960. But by the mid-60s, Updike was allowed to publish his original vision. Per ...more
Eileen Dooley
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely worth the re-read thirty years after the original read.
Language is a vivid second time around, and what was new then is history now. Misogyny even creepier now, no female imperfection misses the gimlet eye. Occasioned a re-read of his bio and a driving trip through Updike-land to see his house, school, graveyard and the dreaded farm - all still there and a lot of familiar secondary character names on tombstones - no RIP there.
Oct 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
If I met Rabbit Angstrom, I'd probably want to punch him in the face, and I hated every minute of reading about his internal life. But I loved all the details of his changing America, his crumbling family, and his slow dissolution. As frustrating as these books were emotionally, I put every one down praising Updike as a writer.
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Good writing is not enough.
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably four of the very best modern novels i have ever read.
Jessie Young
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read books 1 and 2 in a different volume, but picked this one up because it was used and it ended up being $10 cheaper to buy this used volume than to just pick up the paperback versions of 3 and 4. Since finishing, I've switched to reading on my new Kindle. The juxtaposition of this 1500 page mammoth and the Kindle makes reading on a Kindle feel almost like cheating.

But perhaps the weight of this novel is a good thing. Makes you work for closure on Rabbit's life, rather than breez
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Rabbit Run

The technical style of the book is hard to beat. There is a clear plot, minor characters that come to life, settings that are at once natural and resonant, and a deeper meaning to the story that comes out without long philosophical expositions. In short, this is as good as the realistic novel gets.

Reading the reviews on Goodreads, I am amazed at the number of people who see Updike as a misogynist. I suppose it must be because Rabbit treats women so badly and Updike tries to understan
Jay Hawk
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having read these 4 novels one after another, I couldn't have even considered picking up another novel until I had finished. I don't believe it matters whether you like or dislike Rabbit; the writing is what it is all about.

Personally I liked Rabbit and all his failings. Updike is possibly the most honest author I have ever come across - especially when dealing with the male experience. Rabbit thinks as many men think, whether poor, rust belt American or not. Male readers who claim t
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Last week I was reading an article by John Updike and was struck (as usual) by the simplicity and lucidness of his prose. That got me thinking about his works that I have read and the result is this post on the Rabbit series of novels. The Rabbit tetralogy is a series of 4 novels written by John Updike, tracing the life of 'Harry Rabbit Angstrom', from his mid 20's to the next 4 decades. The novels were also written over a period of 4 decades with one novel being published in one decade starting ...more
Jonathan Combs
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This Everyman isn't really Anyman. While I generally gravitate to flawed characters, Rabbit Angstrom is painfully predictable. He seems incapable of introspection, but wallows in depression and a sense that life has been unfair to him while, in reality, he skates over the disasters he causes. Updike's beautiful prose seems entirely wrong for Rabbit--it suggests a depth that never seems to be there. The peripheral characters, with the exception of his sister, all seem to be paper cutouts of peopl ...more
Charles Kerns
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: loc-usa, 20th-century
Selfish, immature, cruel, unlikable men. An all-American nightmare of badly designed Toyotas, encircling women and encroaching suburbia. Updike's novels never lets you down--he always writes something you can hate. In flowing, well-tuned phrases that wash over the nasty pettiness of the lives he writes, always with a well-educated Easterner's glow, or is it glower.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Two of these four novels, chronicling much of the everyday texture of American life from the 1930s-80s, won the Pulitzer Prize, plus other kudos such as the National Book Award. As a 70 year old, I found Rabbit Angstrom's musings on death and mortality thought-provoking, but Rabbit was so disgusting, misogynistic, pathetic, and self-centered that I was glad to finally finish the fourth book
Edward Sudall
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favourite novel series.
Dec 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Since this is, essentially, four separate novels, I took it upon myself to review them separately. Now that's dedication.

Overall: Updike knows how to set a scene. The first novel takes place in an era I wasn't around to experience, but I was there. I got it. These novels teach you something about America, what we think is important and how we cope. And it's depressing. Also: even if you hate the characters, and have a dislike of the story itself, you can't deny that Updike is a fantastic writer.
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rabbit Redux: In my mind, this was better than the first and third entries in the Rabbit Angstrom novels. Updike's creation of characters that seem to represent more than just an individual on the page is so easy for him. Jill a flower child, Skeeter a Vietnam War Vet, Mim an emigrant to the west to pursue a hedonistic life style and Rabbit--all rendered to make them individuals first, emblems of a disparate America second. Rabbit, untethered by but also indifferent to his wife's infidelities, s ...more
Charles Stahl
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Rabbit novels are a tour de force chronicle, critique, and eloquent appreciation of the American white Protestant middle-class male and the swiftly shifting culture around him in the last four decades of the twentieth century. From his feckless youth as a promising high school athlete and unready husband and father in Rabbit, Run; through vulgar affluence, serial infidelity, and guilt as a car dealer in Rabbit Redux; to angry bewilderment over 1970s social upheaval in Rabbit Is Rich, the mea ...more
Rabbit, Run (read 10/2/09) - 3

This is a dense but concise story that's at best mediocre and cast in lavishly beautiful prose. As a writer, I cannot help but appreciate the beauty of Updike's descriptions. The story, though, isn't all that and it takes some hard slogging in the beginning to get through, but overall it's a fairly entertaining read.

Rabbit Redux (read 11/19/09) - 2.5

Rabbit Angstrom grows on you. The first hundred or two hundred pages are just meh,
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I read Rabbit Run in the 60s probably mostly for prurient reasons. The four novels included here (Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest), as well as a separately published novella sequel, Rabbit Remembered, were written over 40 years and follow Rabbit as he moves through his life in small town Pennsylvania, based on Shillington, where Updike grew up. Rabbit Run seemed overwritten and under plotted, but I hung in there and was rewarded many times over. Each book is better than ...more
Feb 14, 2011 rated it liked it
For all of its epic scope, I feel like I never really knew Rabbit Angstrom. I know he thought about sex a lot. He got in to drugs in the sixties, got high in his living room and screwed a teenage runaway. He left his wife in the fifties and she got drunk and drowned their newborn daughter. He got blamed, in absentia. He never was a good father, always resentful of his son's small hands ("those Springer hands," Springer being his wife's maiden name) and whiny nature. Even his wife
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
It took me about a year to get through all four novels, but I finally finished. I've stuck with Harry Angstrom through thick and thin (mostly thin).

Harry did a lot of really horrible things, and most of the time I hated his guts, but every so often, there were glimpses of someone who was trying to do the right thing but just didn't know how. To me, he was much more sympathetic in the first and last novels. I could understand why he did some of the things he did when he was young, and when he wa
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam Gutschenritter
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Rabbit Run-How do you rate a book with a main character with just north of zero redeeming qualities? He is selfish, demanding, childish, mean, greedy and totally lost in trying to find what it means to live a good life. I believe he wants to succeed and to be a good man, but the life he is in justifies his actions. Despite this Rabbit is a horrible human being. On the other hand Updike's writing was amazing and for that writing I will continue. 4 of 5

Rabbit Redux-What the hell was th
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John Hoyer Updike 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 his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more

Other books in the series

Rabbit Angstrom (4 books)
  • Rabbit, Run
  • Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom #2)
  • Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3)
  • Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom #4)