Kemper's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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's review
Jul 12, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 100, plain-old-fiction, classic-lit

God, do I hate Rabbit Angstrom! How much do I hate him? If I was in a room with Hannibal Lector, the Judge from Blood Meridian, the Joker from Batman, and Rabbit Angstrom, and someone handed me a gun with only 3 bullets, I'd shoot Rabbit three times.

This is the first book by Updike I've read, and his reputation as a writer was well-earned. I'd had a vague idea that this story was about a former hot shot basketball player struggling to adjust to a regular life. I was completely unprepared for this spoiled, impulsive, selfish guy who really only cares about himself and his whims and manages to completely destroy almost everyone around him and still refuses to accept any responsibility for it.

It's obvious that Rabbit isn't meant to be a hero, or even an anti-hero. Updike does a masterful job of tricking you into initially liking Rabbit, even after he leaves his pregnant wife and son and takes up with a sorta-prostitute, but then slowly showing you Rabbit's true nature. And the trick is that it was right in front of you all along.

Brilliant book, and I'd planned to read the other Rabbit novels, but I honestly detested him so much that I don't know if I'll have the stomach for another one in the near future.
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Quotes Kemper Liked

John Updike
“Everybody who tells you how to act has whiskey on their breath.”
John Updike, Rabbit, Run

Comments (showing 1-32 of 32) (32 new)

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message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda And then beat him with the gun. Oh, how I hated Rabbit.

message 2: by Kemper (last edited Jul 16, 2009 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper And then pour salt in his wounds...

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)


message 4: by Ladiibbug (new)

Ladiibbug LMAO @ Kemper's review!! OMG, hilarious -- thanks for starting my day off with a big laugh.

message 5: by Kemper (last edited Apr 26, 2010 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Ladiibbug wrote: "LMAO @ Kemper's review!! OMG, hilarious -- thanks for starting my day off with a big laugh.


No problem. Nothing gets laughs like discussing the fantasy homicide of a fictional character you despise..

Donald Quist LOL, literally.

Kemper Donald wrote: "LOL, literally."

Glad you liked it.

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

j points for the first paragraph. maybe this book is great, but i shall never know.

message 9: by Erik F. (new) - added it

Erik F. Your first paragraph is laugh-out-loud funny.

message 10: by Marija (new)

Marija Great review! I read it way back in the day (high school, 35 years ago) and felt the EXACT SAME WAY! I hated the guy for leaving his pregnant wife. Thanks for the laugh!

Paddythemic glad I wasn't sipping anything when I read this review. would've exploded.

message 12: by H. (new) - rated it 3 stars

H. I read this book in my twenties and what I got from it was, "never get married."

Kemper Hannah wrote: "I read this book in my twenties and what I got from it was, "never get married.""

I think that is exactly what Updike was saying in this one.

message 14: by Lily (new)

Lily Funny review and comments.

Bryna Yes to all of that. Updike is clearly talented and so specific in his style... but Rabbit is difficult stomach and the misogyny is palpable. I had intended to read all the Rabbit novels as well but now am not so sure. I'll need a nice long break before I resume them anyhow...

message 16: by Shawnnita (new)

Shawnnita Damn! I'm only on page 16! I'd better keep reading to see why you all feel the way you do! Hope I don't cry though

message 17: by James (new)

James Thane I'm in the same boat; I detested Rabbit but thought that the books were very well written and a great commentary on the period. I did read the whole series and will refrain from saying anything about the later books, especially given your reverence (NOT!) for a certain class of characters that inevitably appears down the road...

message 18: by Sally (new) - rated it 1 star

Sally I hated Rabbit so much I couldn't finish the first book. I'm glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't pay for it. Unfortunately, it kept me from ever wanting to read another book by Updike.

message 19: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Kemper, very funny. But am I the only person who sympathizes with Rabbit because he has no idea about himself, and thus no idea what pain he is causing everyone else?

Jeffrey Schmieder The funny thing? Rabbit is still not a good guy in the sequels. But I love the books as Americana.

Justin Bennett Great review, I feel the same way. Beautifully written book, but every time a street was mentioned I was hoping Rabbit would be hit by a car. Or that in the end he just killed himself.

Updike is a great writer, I can tell just from this book. Like you though my disgust for Rabbit means I'll never read any other books in the Rabbit series. Or any other book by Updike for that matter.

Arthur What a character! Also, huge fan of Updike's writing. Keeper, totally agree with you though, I really hated Rabbit's character! ...but then I went and read the other three in the Run series.

message 23: by Joshua (new) - added it

Joshua T s is a good updike book. I hate rabbit, too.

message 24: by Judith (new) - added it

Judith Now I'm wondering why I would want to read about the despicable Rabbit

KatieSuzanne Perfect review. Exactly how I felt about the character, the writing, and my torn feelings about reading more Rabbit books.

message 26: by Dana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dana Your review was hilarious and I completely agree with you. Rabbit is a jerk, but yet there were times that I could not set down the book. Despite my dislike for Rabbit, I want to see how his life turns out.

Erdelyimelinda I have just finished the book and I totally agree with you. While I was reading it I was like "I hate this selfish guy" but as a book it's quite good

message 28: by Rita (new)

Rita I love these books, though Rabbit himself is intriguingly unlikeable. Don't worry -- he will eventually die (like all of us) and be the uncomfortable reminder of what America is all about. He's just a regular guy.

Ana  Vlădescu Just starting to read it now. V curious!

message 30: by Leland Ruckel (new)

Leland Ruckel Sd

message 31: by Ayah (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ayah My sentiments exactly; although it didnt take me the whole book to really despise Rabbit. As much as I wanted to like him (what could be so bad about a protagonist whose likened to a prey animal)? I despised him from the first scene with Janice. His hatred of anything feminine is palpable. He fetishizes everything. The misogyny is so deep that he hates his own tears. I might have appreciated this book more if I read it in the nineties, but at this point my patience with depiscable main characters is wearing thin. Updike's writing is gorgeous, but even though he'a trying to make a point about Rabbit, I'm not sure how I feel about such poetry being used in service of such a character, particularly when characters like Rabbit have had more than their fair share of sympathetic and/or nuanced representation.

message 32: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Meechan Loved your "three bullets" scenario. I haven't read any of Updike's Rabbit series yet but have all four, you've got me stoked, even if Rabbit isn't a true anti-hero, sounds like I'll have no problem despising him.

You might like some Tom Wolfe, his "I am Charlotte Simmons", has a spoiled college ball player, and "Bonfire if the Vanities" is classic rich/spoiled but doesn't get it.

Thanks for sharing

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