Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rabbit, Run - John Updike

Run Rabbit, run. If I were to meet Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom in the street I would give him a black eye but the way things are, well, I can't stop reading about him. Of all the protagonists I have loved to hate I haven't hated anyone more than Harry Angstrom and therein lies John Updike's genius. He has created such a fantastic world of self-indulgence and you find yourself recognizing bits and pieces of your own world in the book.

At twenty six, Rabbit is caught in the throes of "mid-life" crisis with a meager job selling kitchen gadgets, an alcoholic wife and a second-rate existence. And Rabbit, the high school basketball star, who knows what being first-rate is like, cannot do second-rate. One evening his claustrophobic life finally propels him to abandon his pregnant wife and just flee with his car. What follows are the next five months of Harry's life and the events that unfold as a result of his extremely bad choices. Rabbit's life seems to be on some sort of constant overload and from the beginning, one wonders if Rabbit himself knows who or what he is running from. Rabbit's relationship with his wife, his sometimes loving, sometimes aloof relationship with his son, his affair with Ruth, a part-time hooker whom he meets through his old basketball coach when he leaves his wife and eventually abandons, his friendship with the Reverend Eccles, his parents, his in-laws all suggest that he shows a degree of selfishness that shock the senses.

Rabbit perhaps lives the so-called "ordinary" life of a straying man who abandons his family only to come crawling back and then leave again, but it is the getting inside his head that makes Rabbit Angstrom so fascinating and John Updike has presented the inside of Rabbit's head with crystal clear clarity. Rabbit, Run or any of its sequels for that matter do not seem to guarantee a happy ending, in fact they don't seem to guarantee a happy anything, but if you give this book a shot and stick with it till the end, you will come away having made reluctant friends with a man intensely dislikeable and you will want to go on reading about his life. So Rabbit runs, run with him.


Kals said...

Another of those books that I always hear about. I'm not sure it's my type of book though. Thanks for the review :)

bikerguy said...

nice review :) i don't know about the clarity in Rabbit's head, but the clarity in your writing is increasing by the day...good work! :)
sounds like a good book to read...and well, i am not particular about happy endings ;)

Whitney said...

Great review! I've always be curious about John Updike and I've never been one for happy endings, {alright so sue me} this looks right up my alley.

Mrs. B. said...

I'm aware of John Updike and his Rabbit books but I've never read anything by him. I really should. Thanks for the great review!

Pavi said...

Good one vaish.Your gettin better.Especially,Since it doesn have a happy ending,an honest review from a person who loves happy endings is really appreciable:) I love happy endings..this one sounds more of a serious drama..somehow when I read this review bits n pieces of the movie "Pursuit of Happyness" dunno why :-p btw i liked the line It doesn have a happy ending actually it doesn have a happy ANYTHING..LOL really good work:)

Shweta said...

I was totally not aware of this book. Dislike able personalities make for a great read :)Will pick this up some day..

Hannah Stoneham said...

What a pithy and interesting review. I have never read any John Updike - and the only thing that I really know about him is that he is alleged to be pretty acerbic and that he had some kind of dispute with Tom Woolf.... This sounds like an excellent read - thanks for recommending and sharing your thoughts.


My Book Barn said...

Thank you for following my blog! Great review! This is one on my Wish List that I've been wanting to read. Now I want to read it even more after your review! Looking forward to visiting your blog more!

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

A beautiful review, Vaishnavi. Haven't read any Updike till now. Thanks for a peep into his world.

Diane said...

You wrote a wonderful review. This is one Updike novel that I have not written.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog; I appreciate that!

Kals said...

I have an award for you! :)

Anonymous said...

There's actually a series of these books. I think they are pretty cool. They seem to embody the typical AMerican male mindset :)

Vaishnavi said...

@Kals - Thanks for the award! Yes the book is little weird but you can try reading it if you want to. You might even like it!

@Avi - Thanks :)

@Whitney - Thanks! I have always been a sucker for happy endings but trying to diversify now :) I am sure you will like this one.

@Mrs. B - Thanks a lot and welcome here! Do give the rabbit books a try :)

@Pavi - Haha thanks :) It took a while for me to like this book but I do sort of like it now! There is always at least one redeemable quality in every book ..

@Shweta - You are right about dislikeable personalities. Give these Rabbit books a try :)

@Hannah - Thanks a lot! I wasn't aware of the Updike Tom Wolfe rift, in fact I don't know anything at all about John Updike! Should wiki him, thanks for the info!

Vaishnavi said...

@Angela - Thanks a lot and welcome here! I am pretty sure you will enjoy this book!

@Mr.Chaudhuri - Thank you Sir! Updike is very intriguing but I feel that he is a bit of an acquired habit.

@Diane - Thanks a lot and welcome here :-)

@Nishita - Exactly! They do indeed seem to portray exactly that. Have you read all the rabbit books?