Alan's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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's review
Jan 23, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: most-liked-review
Read in December, 1991

I discovered Rabbit Angstrom and John Updike while sitting in the Intensive Care Waiting Room at a local hospital. My mother languished in a coma for one month before she finally found peace, and I spent most of those days and many of my nights in that waiting room. During much of that time I'd blown through typical waiting room crap like books with plots about overthrowing the government, stories about detectives who were psychoanalysts, stories about psychoanalysts who were detectives, etc. One day during this siege, I stopped at my mother's house and was checking out her bookcases when I found a hardback copy of "Rabbit" and took it back to the hospital with me.
What a revelation. I was amazed. I couldn’t remember reading anything like it before. Honest true-to-life emotions of real everyday flawed people. And in the most beautiful and precise prose that I’d ever encountered. I immediately followed up reading this book with “Redux”, the only other Rabbit book published at the time. Since then I’ve easily read more pages of Updike than of any other writer.
My mother was a voracious reader, and a big public library patron. She bought relatively few books of the many that she'd read, so I always thought that there must have been some special significance to the books that she owned. I’ve always thought that my personal discovery of Updike’s work among her collection was special for that reason. (I also once found a paperback copy of “Tropic of Cancer” at her house – that still blows me away.)
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02/27/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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switterbug (Betsey) I wasn't a big fan of the few Updikes I've read but have been told that the Rabbit books are where I need to turn to. Btw, your review was so tender, and I felt your presence waiting throughout those days, quietly waiting, reading.

judy Lovely story Alan. Makes me realize that while I have individual books--mainly non-fiction--I don't have particular author I've collected to leave behind for my kids. Maybe I should feel good that after 3 different copies and 20 years, my eldest daughter finally made it through East of Eden. She always liked it but, and this I don't understand, she can set a book down and forget to pick it up again. She has started some really quality books and her fines have probably built a new library.

message 3: by Jeffrey (new) - added it

Jeffrey Mcandrew Yes, Updike made the pages come alive!

message 4: by Marsha (new)

Marsha Not only did our Mother read EVERYTHING, she encouraged us to read everything. I read a Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was 11. When others were shocked that Mom would let me read that book (it had a sexual predator in it), Mother replied, "If she can understand what is going on, good for her. If she can't understand, it won't hurt her." I still hated Rabbit Run, the man has no redeeming value!

Stan Dandyliver A man need not have a redeeming value in order to be interesting. As you say, Updike writes with an achingly beautiful precision and I am so pleased I had to read this for our recent book group meet. Indeed a revelation and a novel to be remembered and the memory of reading it cherished.

Greg Z Allan, I love stories about why people read certain books, when they read them, how it impacts them, etc. There are millions of reviews all over the place, but so few people share a story the way you did. Thanks! By the way, I loved Rabbit, Run, it's definitely one of my favorite novels ever. But I'm glad I read it now, in my late fifties, because any earlier and I may have misunderstood it.

Alan Thanks for the kind words Greg. I'm neither trained nor experienced enough to recognize and discuss what makes for good literature, but Updike's writing, especially the Rabbit series, touched me on a visceral level, and that's what I want to share with Goodreaders.

message 8: by Katy (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy M I'm sorry about your mother. It's kind of nice that you were able to read what was probably one of her favorite books while saying goodbye to her.

Alan Thank you Katy for your kind thoughts.

message 10: by Gregory (new) - added it

Gregory Thank you for sharing that story about your mother, as well as a positive viewpoint on the novel.

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