Rabbit at Rest

( 9 )

Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Howells Medal, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
 
In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired a Florida condo, a second grandchild, and a troubled, overworked heart. His son, Nelson, is behaving erratically; his daughter-in-law, Pru, is sending him mixed signals; and his wife, Janice, decides in midlife to return to the world of work. As, through ...
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Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Howells Medal, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
 
In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired a Florida condo, a second grandchild, and a troubled, overworked heart. His son, Nelson, is behaving erratically; his daughter-in-law, Pru, is sending him mixed signals; and his wife, Janice, decides in midlife to return to the world of work. As, through the year of 1989, Reagan’s debt-ridden, AIDS-plagued America yields to that of the first George Bush, Rabbit explores the bleak terrain of late middle age, looking for reasons to live and opportunities to make peace with a remorselessly accumulating past.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Rich and rewarding . . . Updike is working at the full height of his powers.”—The New York Times
 
“Brilliant . . . It must be read. It is the best novel about America to come out of America for a very, very long time.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Powerful . . . John Updike with his precisian’s prose and his intimately attentive yet cold eye is a master.”—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review

Washington Post Book World
Brilliant...It must be read.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Harry ``Rabbit'' Angstrom, morbidly depressed, overweight and living with wife Janice in a Florida retirement community, recovers from a heart attack and is led astray by his libido one last time. ``Updike is razor-sharp and mordantly funny,'' said PW. ``If this novel is in some respects an elegy to Rabbit's bewildered existence, it is also a poignant, humorous, instructive guidebook to the aborted American dream.'' The book took a Pulitzer Prize. Oct.
Library Journal
Harry ``Rabbit'' Angstrom is back in this final installment of Updike's four-decade chronicle. Now 55 and semi-retired, Harry spends half the year in Florida with wife Janice while Nelson, their son, runs the family business. Yet Harry's ``golden years'' are far from happy: he has ballooned to 230 pounds and suffers from angina. Janice is becoming increasingly independent. Nelson's cocaine habit is bankrupting Springer Motors. Harry sees decline on all sides, and the novel's great strength is how Updike links Harry's decline to that of his country, giving his sense of loss an elegiac feel. Despite some flaws--excessive length, a weak characterization of Nelson--the novel measures up well against the rest of the series. This is the saddest and deepest of the ``Rabbit'' novels, an aching portrait of America at the end of the Reagan era. Certain to be in demand. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/90.-- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Washington Post Book World
Brilliant...It must be read.
Carol Joyce Oates
Rabbit at Rest is certainly the most brooding, the most demanding, the most concentrated of John Updike's longer novels....One begins virtually to share, with the doomed Harry Angstrom, a panicky sense of the body's terrible finitude, and of its place in a world of other, competing bodies: ''You fill a slot for a time and then move out; that's the decent thing to do: make room.'' ....The being that most illuminates the Rabbit quartet is not finally Harry Angstrom himself but the world through which he moves in his slow downward slide, meticulously recorded by one of our most gifted American realists. -- The New York Times, September 30, 1990
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449911945
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Series: Rabbit Quartet , #4
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 183,398
  • Lexile: 1050L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Biography

With an uncommonly varied oeuvre that includes poetry, criticism, essays, short stories, and novels, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike helped to change the face of late-20th-century American literature.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Updike graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1954. Following a year of study in England, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, establishing a relationship with the magazine that continued until his death in January, 2009. For more than 50 years, he lived in two small towns in Massachusetts that inspired the settings for several of his stories.

In 1958, Updike's first collection of poetry was published. A year later, he made his fiction debut with The Poorhouse Fair. But it was his second novel, 1960's Rabbit, Run, that forged his reputation and introduced one of the most memorable characters in American fiction. Former small-town basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom struck a responsive chord with readers and critics alike and catapulted Updike into the literary stratosphere.

Updike would revisit Angstrom in 1971, 1981, and 1990, chronicling his hapless protagonist's jittery journey into undistinguished middle age in three melancholy bestsellers: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest. A concluding novella, "Rabbit Remembered," appeared in the 2001 story collection Licks of Love.

Although autobiographical elements appear in the Rabbit books, Updike's true literary alter ego was not Harry Angstrom but Harry Bech, a famously unproductive Jewish-American writer who starred in his own story cycle. In between -- indeed, far beyond -- his successful series, Updike went on to produce an astonishingly diverse string of novels. In addition, his criticism and short fiction became popular staples of distinguished literary publications.

Good To Know

Updike first became entranced by reading when he was a young boy growing up on an isolated farm in Pennsylvania. Afflicted with psoriasis and a stammer, he escaped his self-consciousness by immersing himself in drawing, writing, and reading.

An accomplished artist, Updike accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University. He decided to attend Harvard University because he was a big fan of the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.

One of the most respected authors of the 20th century, Updike won every major literary prize in America, including the Guggenheim Fellow, the Rosenthal Award, the National Book Award in Fiction, the O. Henry Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Union League Club Abraham Lincoln Award, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor, and the National Medal of the Arts.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Hoyer Updike (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shillington, Pennsylvania
    1. Date of Death:
      January 27, 2009
    2. Place of Death:
      Beverly Farms, MA

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2001

    Rabbit wins

    The unparelled powers of Updike are on full display in Rabbit at Rest. His uncanny ability to extrapolate fascinating apsects from ostensibly mundane, day-to-day life never ceases to amaze. Rabbit at Rest focuses on the state of America under George Bush, Rabbit's relationship with his son, Nelson,(a product of the 70s that Rabbit has never, and will never understand), and his continual search to find something in life that made him feel as important as he was as a high school basketball star. Prurience and infidelity, of course, are firmly entrenched themes, but Updike presents them in a way that makes you understand the point of view of all parties involved. Rabbit at Rest is the densest of the Rabbit novels, and the writing style probably the most ornate. But for anyone who appreciates the power and beauty of words, Rabbit at Rest should be read. The ending is one of the greatest pieces of contemporary literature that has been create. Not sure if it equals Rabbit Redux, but it's quite close.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2001

    This book is exceptional.

    I believe this is the best of the four Rabbit novels. It presents an exceptional view of the aged Rabbit as he endures retirement with his family. Updike forces you too look at the world in such a unique way in this novel and explores the Reagan years in such an engaging and troubling way. You will think about this book long after you finish it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Forest

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