Vegantrav's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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Aug 26, 2012

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Some writers are very good prose stylists; they are artistic wordsmiths, prose poets. Others are great storytellers; they simply have a brilliant imagination, enabling them to spin out entrancing tales. In the latter category are writers like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. In the former category are the likes of Vladimir Nabokov and John Updike.

Rabbit, Run is a sad, dismal novel. It is a tragedy of ordinary people living ordinary lives. Rabbit, despite being lazy and irresponsible and inconsiderate is still a likable character, and so we sympathize with him and his boring job, his bad marriage, and his desire for freedom. At the same time, we also find his actions inconsiderate and far too selfish. On second thought, maybe Rabbit isn't so likable after all: that is, he's the kind of person that is really, superficially, very likable, but once you get to really know him, you might not like him very much after all; you'll feel bad for him and his circumstances and be tempted to pity him, but then you'll see how he acts and think: what a jerk!

In telling Rabbit's story, Updike writes with brilliance and even grace. His words do more than just paint a picture; his writing is so precise that it is more like taking photographs than painting pictures.

For all his brilliance as a writer, Updike can be, if I'm going to be completely frank, very boring for long stretches. The descriptiveness, whether of nature or of a certain setting or of Rabbit's psyche, too often goes on for far too long. I could not just read straight through Rabbit, Run; I could only read 15 or 20 pages at a time, and then I would have to put it down and turn to another novel that could more easily hold my attention. Maybe this says more about me as a reader than Updike as a writer, but I have to say that oftentimes I would turn the pages praying to see an upcoming sequence of dialogue instead of long blocks of paragraphs.

Still, this is an interesting tale. And we readers never see coming the tragedy of the novel: baby Becky's accidental death. It's really quite shocking and terribly sad.

After finishing the novel, I'm ambivalent about Rabbit: he has a sad, pathetic life, so I do feel sorry for him, but his tendency (as the title so simply puts it) to run from his problems makes him, in spite of his fun-loving, easy-going personality, almost unlikable.

My final assessment of this novel is probably best revealed by the fact I've never been able to bring myself to read any of the Rabbit sequels because I just found this novel too boring and didn't find Rabbit to be enough of a compelling character to want to read more about him.


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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by E. (new) - rated it 3 stars

E. The third and fourth volumes of the series are the best.

Vegantrav Ah, well, maybe I shall have to go ahead and finish the series, then.

message 3: by E. (new) - rated it 3 stars

E. Then there is a fifth installment. A novella included in a story collection entitled Licks of Love.

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