j's Reviews > Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
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's review
Mar 28, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: classics, did-not-finish, 30-day-book-challenge

You know what would be nice, is if there was a wikipedia for life, and every time you met someone, you could just give it a glance and see if, you know, you really want to be associated with that person.

Sure, it would backfire, it would reveal your prejudices and narrow-mindedness, your circle of friends might become a lot less varied and interesting. On the other hand, you'd never have to fake a conversation about football again, and you could easily avoid the total assholes like Rabbit Angstrom.

I didn't finish this book. I read 30 or 40 pages and I can't even remember the writing because never before have I hated a character so much. I am someone who never notices the annoying characters in books or movies; mostly, you have to reach a Bella Swan-level of idiocy before I'll start hating you. Rabbit did it within a few pages. I can decide what it was: was it when he berated his wife for being too fat and unkempt after giving birth to and caring for his child? Was it when he kept thinking about how dumb she was? Was it how he pulled that whole, "See you honey, I'm going to the store... forever!" trick, and ran off to sleep with his mistress and mope about his sad excuse for a life?

But this is an Important Book by a Famous Author, and who wants to admit defeat? So I went to wikipedia and I read the plot synopsis. Disgusted, I read about the rest of Rabbit Angstrom's life as told in Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Yay, Rabbit is Dead Rabbit at Rest. Spoiler alert: he never stops being absolutely horrible for a single second. They say you shouldn't make snap judgments, but I'd wager running away from your wife and toddler son with nary a word is one of those times where basing your opinion on a first impression is ok.

Please, go ahead and tell me I am wrong for reviewing this without finishing it, for not appreciating Updike's prose, for not seeing how he has humanized a hateful man, for failing to realize the way Rabbit's life works as a metaphor for the deconstruction of masculine identity in post-WWII America, or how erectile dysfunction is a really big deal, or the lie of hyper-consumerism, or the empty pursuit of middle-class ideals. Then I can go ahead and make a snap judgment about you too (for clarity: JUST KIDDING!).

Sometimes you just don't want to read a nasty, ugly book about someone horrible. Let alone fucking four of them. This one's for you, wikipedia.

Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 2: Least favorite book.
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02/18/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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Jenn(ifer) I agree with you that Rabbit is one of the most despicable characters ever imagined, but I think that's one of the reasons I liked the book so much. Never had an author before or since created such a vile character; I hated him with fervor! Maybe that's a strange reason to like a book, but when an author creates in me such a visceral reaction, I can't help but enjoy myself along the way.

message 2: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j sometimes, sure. i hate almost everyone in revolutionary road but i still liked that book.

i just really hated rabbit. i read for fun, mostly, which doesn't mean only happy, fun books, but i didn't want to be miserable. this book was making me miserable.

RandomAnthony Maybe I'll just cut and paste this for my review...although the narrative style bothered me more than the character's asshole-ness.

message 4: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j like i said, i can't remember the writing very well, but it did a good job of making me hate rabbit. though i guess i could blame the prose since i DID rip right through similarly dark & hateful books because i liked the writing.

message 5: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j i dunno... some of my selections will already have reviews and i think a few categories don't need them (books you have faked reading, book you want to read).

it is... ambitious though. especially if i want to, like, read books and write reviews for those books. it would be neat though.

message 6: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j i think that means, like, an "important" book you should have read, or, like, everyone was talking about it so you pretended you did? i dunno. i sure pretended to have read a big chunk of great expectations in high school...

message 7: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j maybe a relative gave you a book you didn't want to read so you said you did? i don't know... i have no idea for that one either. the only way i "pretended" to read GE in school was i took a test on it.

message 8: by Grace (new)

Grace Tjan This is a great review!

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

What about books for school? I'm sure there were a couple I faked my way through. Oh, for sure I lied that I finished, um, Shamela? Maybe it was Tom Jones.

message 10: by j (last edited Jun 08, 2011 08:36PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

j i kind of lied about heart of darkness (10th grade?). i could NOT read it so i got the audiobook and slept through half.

message 11: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j Sandybanks wrote: "This is a great review!"


Reese *Alert: Possible Spoiler

Hey Joel,

I want to click "like." I will click "like." This fascinating review reveals too much cleverness and conviction for me not to click "like."

Your talent and my open-mindedness kept me from not finishing and from criticizing a review in which Rabbit Angstrom and the Rabbit tetralogy are treated like a baby that deserves to be thrown out with the bath water. I would never, of course, defend Rabbit's actions -- if he were an actual person; and I'm not about to begin a defense of Updike's Rabbit books. Having written an M.A. thesis that dealt with nine of Updike's novels (including RABBIT,RUN), I think it's best that I just finish this sentence and cover my keyboard with tape until I click "post."

message 13: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j that's ok, i'm sure you hate something i like.

message 14: by Reese (last edited Jun 11, 2011 03:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Reese It's safe to say that I hate something (i.e., character, book, author) that you like. I also think it's safe to say that you wouldn't get on a ship commanded by Captain Ahab, feel good about having had Arthur Dimmesdale as your spiritual advisor, do business with Jason Compson, choose to socialize with the Buchanans or even Jay Gatsby, loan a horse to Richard III, listen for thirty seconds to Willy Loman's bullshit. . . . So one star for MOBY-DICK, THE SCARLET LETTER, THE SOUND AND THE FURY, THE GREAT GATSBY, RICHARD III, DEATH OF A SALESMAN?????

I'm not surprised that Joel, a brilliant reviewer, considers Rabbit an "asshole"; it's an apt label for him -- despite his redeeming qualities. The surprise is what follows from that judgment: Joel casts aside books that feature assholes and decides that they deserve one star?

message 15: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j No. I set aside this book because I hated reading it.

Reese That makes sense to me -- of course. The review had led me to conclude that you hated the book because you hated the main character. Thanks for the clarifying note.

message 17: by j (last edited Jun 11, 2011 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

j nah, if you read the comments above you'll note i reference revolutionary road, which was about similarly horrible people, but i quite liked that book. something about this one just didn't engage me, which made it easy to drop on rabbit's account.

message 18: by Becky (new)

Becky That seems like a reasonable reason to hate a book to me. I'm struggling through a book with an unlikeable main character right now, and it's sure as heck not doing the book any favors - and this guy's not an asshole, he's just an entitled teen. But god... multiple books of asshole without any redeeming growth at all? I'll pass.

Thanks for the review and the summary, Joel. I can't say that I was planning on reading this one, but you've saved me the trouble of decision-making should it come up. ;)

Reese Becky wrote: "That seems like a reasonable reason to hate a book to me. I'm struggling through a book with an unlikeable main character right now, and it's sure as heck not doing the book any favors - and this g..."

Rabbit is still "screwing things up" in RABBIT AT REST(#4), but he does have redeeming qualities, and he does grow (long before RAR). Seeing what's good in him and how he changes probably requires reading the books, not wiki. Wait a minute. I'm gonna take a risk here and ask that you ignore the word "probably."

message 20: by Becky (new)

Becky Reese wrote: "Seeing what's good in him and how he changes probably requires reading the books, not wiki."

LOL... Fair point.

What about wikipedia AND Cliff's Notes? ;)

Reese Becky, now I'm laughing. (The combo just might be enough to completely f___ up your ability to grasp the most important elements of the novels.)

Thank you for the laugh. I needed it.

message 22: by Becky (new)

Becky Reese wrote: "Becky, now I'm laughing. (The combo just might be enough to completely f___ up your ability to grasp the most important elements of the novels.)

Thank you for the laugh. I needed it."

I don't doubt that a bit. My IQ probably just fell a couple points just for typing that sentence. ;)

Marie desJardins Loved reading your review! Your fervent, passionate hatred of Rabbit Angstrom was far more enjoyable to read than the book itself.

message 24: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j thanks! glad you enjoyed it more than the book. because if you didn't... yeesh... ;)

Jessica I am also considering giving up on this book. It is just No Fun.


message 27: by j (new) - rated it 1 star

j thank you! i haven't read it in a few years and basically forgot writing it, and i like it too.

Caroline Elizabeth wrote: ""Yay Rabbit is Dead" is still one of my favorite lines on goodreads."

That sentence cracked me up too. :D :D

ChrisB90 Your opinion is invalid. You did not Finnish the book. You did not read any of the sequels. If i go to a restaurant and eat half the entree and leave before the main or dessert is served how can i give a fair review of the place.

Marie desJardins ChrisB90 wrote: "Your opinion is invalid. You did not Finnish the book. You did not read any of the sequels. If i go to a restaurant and eat half the entree and leave before the main or dessert is served how can i ..."

You're kidding, right? If you go to a restaurant and you hate the entree so much that you leave without finishing it, isn't that exactly the kind of circumstance that would lead you to post a bad review? (Also, you do understand that an opinion can't be invalid, right? Because I don't think you understand the meaning of one or both of those words.)

Lastly, I think you mean "finish" and "I".

Sheesh. Can I give your reply to the review 0 stars?

ChrisB90 Sorry marie. i didn’t Finnish reading all of you’re coment, butt i didnt think the opening was very goood, so i’m sure the rest of it is rubish to. i also have no interest in reading any of you’re further responses. so, without opening a page, i’m just going to assume they are rubish aswel and broadcast it to the rest of the world.

message 32: by David (new)

David I'm so proud I had to google Bella Swan while reading this

message 33: by Valerie (new) - added it

Valerie Franco That is the epitome of "THE BEST" review, description of an experience or place or WINE, RESTAURANT lol...may I send you "blurbs" (how fitting) of the many fuckasses i cross paths with? It's the first time I have read anyone validate this FACT of inbred Dumbasses leaving no room for the usual "mainstream moronic cliche responses" such as "Well Gawd luvz everee UN..N ..ALL HE NEEDZ IZZA LIL LUVV N UNDERSTANDINNNN" to this I say : eat me !!

message 34: by Valerie (new) - added it

Valerie Franco I beg to differ, that has a ring of being stated "as THE FINAL WORD" lol YOU ~~~ projecting onto JOEL what his rating level decisions are based on when submitting reviews for books ~ if the featured character is some fuckass who irritates him ~ ZAP! ONE STAR ! Oh, WAIT !! Gosh...newsflash: UH, that's LIKELY THE CASE..DUHHHH !! REVIEWING !! Not the Enflish Professor EDITING for style, composition, et al !! REVIEWING ! HE DON'T LIKE THE FUCKER, doesn't find him even an "intriguing" fucker (the worst). If I think Al Bundy on "Married With Children" and the entire family is just stupid poo poo and vagina and boobs and penis nasty ha ha's, and so REVIEW IT AS AN UTTERLY STUPID "wanna be clever outrageous sitcom" that MISSED (except to all the inbred oatmeal brains out there watching nascar lol) ...ummmm....yes, one could have the best sitcom script writers on the payroll ~ if the players are repugnant pukes and boring repugnant pukes to boot NO SHIT IT'S A ONE STAR ! A REVIEW ! IT SUCKS !! DIDN'T FLIPPIN LIKE IT ONE BIT! Ok ?

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