Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, Run

by John Updike


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449911655
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1996
Series: Rabbit Quartet , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 170,798
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.72(d)
Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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.

Date of Birth:

March 18, 1932

Date of Death:

January 27, 2009

Place of Birth:

Shillington, Pennsylvania

Place of Death:

Beverly Farms, MA


A.B. in English, Harvard University, 1954; also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England

Read an Excerpt

Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it. Legs, shouts. The scrape and snap of Keds on loose alley pebbles seems to catapult their voices high into the moist March air blue above the wires. Rabbit Angstrom, coming up the alley in a business suit, stops and watches, though he’s twenty-six and six three. So tall, he seems an unlikely rabbit, but the breadth of white face, the pallor of his blue irises, and a nervous flutter under his brief nose as he stabs a cigarette into his mouth partially explain the nickname, which was given to him when he too was a boy. He stands there thinking, the kids keep coming, they keep crowding you up.
His standing there makes the real boys feel strange. Eyeballs slide. They’re doing this for themselves, not as a show for some adult walking around town in a double-breasted cocoa suit. It seems funny to them, an adult walking up the alley at all. Where’s his car? The cigarette makes it more sinister still. Is this one of those going to offer them cigarettes or money to go out in back of the ice plant with him? They’ve heard of such things but are not too frightened; there are six of them and one of him.
The ball, rocketing off the crotch of the rim, leaps over the heads of the six and lands at the feet of the one. He catches it on the short bounce with a quickness that startles them. As they stare hushed he sights squinting through blue clouds of weed smoke, a suddenly dark silhouette like a smokestack against the afternoon spring sky, setting his feet with care, wiggling the ball with nervousness in front of his chest, one widespread white hand on top of the ball and the other underneath, jiggling it patiently to get some adjustment in air itself. The cuticle moons on his fingernails are big. Then the ball seems to ride up the right lapel of his coat and comes off his shoulder as his knees dip down, and it appears the ball will miss because though he shot from an angle the ball is not going toward the backboard. It was not aimed there. It drops into the circle of the rim, whipping the net with a ladylike whisper. “Hey!” he shouts in pride.
“Luck,” one of the kids says.
“Skill,” he answers, and asks, “Hey. O.K. if I play?”
There is no response, just puzzled silly looks swapped. Rabbit takes off his coat, folds it nicely, and rests it on a clean ashcan lid. Behind him the dungarees begin to scuffle again. He goes into the scrimmaging thick of them for the ball, flips it from two weak grubby-knuckled child’s hands, has it in his own. That old stretched-leather feeling makes his whole body go taut, gives his arms wings. It feels like he’s reaching down through years to touch this tautness. His arms lift of their own and the rubber ball floats toward the basket from the top of his head. It feels so right he blinks when the ball drops short, and for a second wonders if it went through the hoop without riffling the net. He asks, “Hey whose side am I on?”
In a wordless shuffle two boys are delegated to be his. They stand the other four. Though from the start Rabbit handicaps himself by staying ten feet out from the basket, it is still unfair. Nobody bothers to keep score. The surly silence bothers him. The kids call monosyllables to each other but to him they don’t dare a word. As the game goes on he can feel them at his legs, getting hot and mad, trying to trip him, but their tongues are still held. He doesn’t want this respect, he wants to tell them there’s nothing to getting old, it takes nothing. In ten minutes another boy goes to the other side, so it’s just Rabbit Angstrom and one kid standing five. This boy, still midget but already diffident with a kind of rangy ease, is the best of the six; he wears a knitted cap with a green pompon well down over his ears and level with his eyebrows, giving his head a cretinous look. He’s a natural. The way he moves sideways without taking any steps, gliding on a blessing: you can tell. The way he waits before he moves. With luck he’ll become in time a crack athlete in the high school; Rabbit knows the way. You climb up through the little grades and then get to the top and everybody cheers; with the sweat in your eyebrows you can’t see very well and the noise swirls around you and lifts you up, and then you’re out, not forgotten at first, just out, and it feels good and cool and free. You’re out, and sort of melt, and keep lifting, until you become like to these kids just one more piece of the sky of adults that hangs over them in the town, a piece that for some queer reason has clouded and visited them. They’ve not forgotten him: worse, they never heard of him. Yet in his time Rabbit was famous through the county; in basketball in his junior year he set a B-league scoring record that in his senior year he broke with a record that was not broken until four years later, that is, four years ago.
He sinks shots one-handed, two-handed, underhanded, flat-footed, and out of the pivot, jump, and set. Flat and soft the ball lifts. That his touch still lives in his hands elates him. He feels liberated from long gloom. But his body is weighty and his breath grows short. It annoys him, that he gets winded. When the five kids not on his side begin to groan and act lazy, and a kid he accidentally knocks down gets up with a blurred face and walks away, Rabbit quits readily. “O.K.,” he says. “The old man’s going. Three cheers.”
To the boy on his side, the pompon, he adds, “So long, ace.” He feels grateful to the boy, who continued to watch him with disinterested admiration after the others grew sullen. Naturals know. It’s all in how it feels.
Rabbit picks up his folded coat and carries it in one hand like a letter as he runs. Up the alley. Past the deserted ice plant with its rotting wooden skids on the fallen loading porch. Ashcans, garage doors, fences of chicken-wire caging crisscrossing stalks of dead flowers. The month is March. Love makes the air light. Things start anew; Rabbit tastes through sour aftersmoke the fresh chance in the air, plucks the pack of cigarettes from his bobbling shirt pocket, and without breaking stride cans it in somebody’s open barrel. His upper lip nibbles back from his teeth in self-pleasure. His big suede shoes skim in thumps above the skittering litter of alley gravel.
Running. At the end of this block of the alley he turns up a street, Wilbur Street in the town of Mt. Judge, suburb of the city of Brewer, fifth largest city in Pennsylvania. Running uphill. Past a block of big homes, small fortresses of cement and brick inset with doorways of stained and beveled glass and windows of potted plants; and then half the way up another block, which holds a development built all at once in the Thirties. The frame homes climb the hill like a single staircase.
The space of six feet or so that each double house rises above its neighbor contains two wan windows, wide-spaced like the eyes of an animal, and is covered with composition shingling varying in color from bruise to dung. The fronts are scabby clapboards, once white. There are a dozen three-story homes, and each has two doors. The seventh door is his. The wood steps up to it are worn; under them there is a cubbyhole of dirt where a lost toy molders. A plastic clown. He’s seen it there all winter but he always thought some kid would be coming back for it.
Rabbit pauses in the sunless vestibule, panting. Overhead, a daytime bulb burns dustily. Three tin mailboxes hang empty above a brown radiator. His downstairs neighbor’s door across the hall is shut like a hurt face. There is that smell which is always the same but that he can never identify; sometimes it seems cabbage cooking, sometimes the furnace’s rusty breath, sometimes something soft decaying in the walls. He climbs the stairs to his home, the top floor.
The door is locked. In fitting the little key into the lock his hand trembles, pulsing with unusual exertion, and the metal scratches. But when he opens the door he sees his wife sitting in an armchair with an Old-fashioned, watching television turned down low.
“You’re here,” he says. “What’s the door locked for?”
She looks to one side of him with vague dark eyes reddened by the friction of watching. “It just locked itself.”
“Just locked itself,” he repeats, but bends down to kiss her glossy forehead nevertheless. She is a small woman whose skin tends toward olive and looks tight, as if something swelling inside is straining against her littleness. Just yesterday, it seems to him, she stopped being pretty. With the addition of two short wrinkles at the corners, her mouth has become greedy; and her hair has thinned, so he keeps thinking of her skull under it. These tiny advances into age have occurred imperceptibly, so it seems just possible that tomorrow they’ll be gone and she’ll be his girl again. He makes a stab at kidding her into it. “Whaddeya afraid of? Whodeya think’s gonna come in that door? Errol Flynn?”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Brilliant and poignant . . . By his compassion, clarity of insight, and crystal-bright prose, [John Updike] makes Rabbit’s sorrow his and our own.”—The Washington Post
“The power of the novel comes from a sense, not absolutely unworthy of Thomas Hardy, that the universe hangs over our fates like a great sullen hopeless sky. There is real pain in the book, and a touch of awe.”—Norman Mailer, Esquire
“A lacerating story of loss and of seeking, written in prose that is charged with emotion but is always held under impeccable control.”—Kansas City Star

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Rabbit, Run 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 90 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom was the star of his basketball team. He had everything for him back then. Now, he is married to a woman who does nothing but sit on her couch and smoke cigarettes while she is pregnant. Harry is sick and tired of coming home to his unsatisfied home life. He decides to leave his wife and his son, Nelson. So, he hops into his car and starts to drive out of town. He keeps driving and driving until he meets up with his old basketball coach, Tothero. Tothero introduces him to Ruth. Rabbit finds Ruth to be attractive and not long after, Rabbit becomes her roommate. Rabbit finds that he is most happiest with Ruth. This all has to change when his wife goes into labor with his daughter. After he sees his new daughter, his son, and his wife, he decides that he should stay with his family. Things were going good at home with the new baby, until he realizes that his home life will always be unsatisfactory. What does he do about this? You guessed right, he leaves. A tragedy happens which will bring him back to his family, but Rabbit runs away, again. This time Rabbit is reunited Ruth. Should he stay with Ruth or should he go back to his wife? Rabbit, Run was a not too good book and not too bad book. I felt that this book was not as exciting. It did not have very many interesting parts.Most parts of the book I had to read quick through because it just was, well boring. I do have to say that I liked the way the author threw in some tragedy. Not a lot of authors like to add tragedies, but Updike was not afraid. I could feel the way Rabbit felt during this whole tragedy. Updike did a good job in writing that part in such a melancholy way. I also liked the way Updike ended the book. Updike ended the book with Rabbit doing what he does best, running away from his problems.
NathanDPhillips More than 1 year ago
Updike is a tricky sonofagun. I put this book down twice because I couldn't hate anyone more than Rabbit (this is uncommon, for I can usually overlook my hate in favor of good prose).  In my third try, I forced myself to continue on and I'm quite glad I did. At the beginning Rabbit is the most detestable creature you've ever seen. At the end you, or at least I, weep with tears of agony and love for these characters.  Updike knew what he was doing all along. One might even feel a bit outsmarted by him.   Truly, read this book. The prose alone is worth it, but if you have patience, you will experience a beautiful, haunting story of love and life. I cannot wait to get started with Redux.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever seen a waitress drop an entire tray of ready-to-eat meals ¿ cheeks glowing a vibrant rosy hue ¿ and ended up smiling in spite of yourself? Most people seem to take pleasure in hearing of other¿s misfortunes and sorrows¿an emotion that is best described in the German language as schadenfreude: laughing at the misfortune of others. Rabbit, Run by John Updike not only captures that very principle, but contorts it in a way nearly unprecedented by other literary works. Readers experience the pain of the foremost character, Rabbit Angstrom, with such severity that the book will be a difficult one to put down while unknowingly being coaxed over by the language Updike so masterfully wields. Critics claim that the novel contains flawlessly executed plot advancements alongside intricate wording that flows with such elegance. This beautiful composition of words and images accents the already florescent plot with perfect mental pictures and matchless emotions within each character. Even the simplest of tasks is fascinating enough to provoke thought. ¿With raw sudsy hands Mrs. Angstrom has set about heating coffee for her husband. This small act of service seems to bring her into harmony with him they begin, in the sudden way of old couples apparently at odds, to speak as one¿ (Updike 140). The overall concept of trying to find oneself is so thought-provoking that the novel may take twice the time to read wandering minds cannot seem to take the focus from their own ironically paralleled lives. Rabbit is a character running from life, an action that many people contemplate, but succumb to doing so in a strictly representational manner. He is in a constant search for nothing in particular, and this is what is so drawing about his story. Even though you¿ll find out how pessimistic he is, disliking Rabbit becomes a chore in harmony with Updike¿s in-depth descriptions of his thoughts. Updike¿s novel of forever seeking the unknown is an indescribable story that needs to be experienced to be understood. Through studying his writing style and analyzing the basic plot, Rabbit, Run illustrates Updike¿s own search of the unidentified. However, the true understanding comes from within oneself as they experience this critically acclaimed author¿s tale of hopeful searching. Deep, emotion-filled descriptions of internal trauma turn this everyday tale of longing for true satisfaction into the must-read novel that it stands as now. While I highly doubt you¿ll laugh at Rabbit¿s misfortunes, you are guaranteed to be amused.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While John Updike is a very good author and I like many of his works, I did not enjoy 'Rabbit Run'. The plot is overly drawn out and the characters are static. Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, the protagonist, can not overcome is selfishness and runs from every situation that is not beneficial to his postion in life. The secondary characters also do not contribute to moving the plot forward and tend to complicate the plot further
Guest More than 1 year ago
Updike is so skillful in making us love and hate every single character in the book - you see two sides to everyone, and yet don't realize it until later when you're trying to assess who is right and who is wrong, who is better... Life is hard, and at times running seems to be the best alternative. For Rabbit, there seemed no way of escaping the suburban way of life. At times it seems selfish, but you'd feel suffocated if you didn't try going for something better, too. Initially, you sympathize with Rabbit, because you feel as suffocated as he does...and then you realize that everyone is being suffocated by one thing or another, or in most cases by someone. You feel like taking that ride and seeing where it will lead you, like Harry does in the beginning. You just want to feel a bit of freedom. I think the book is great, and can't wait to read the rest in the series. 'Rabbit, Run' is truly the great American novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our book club read this book recently. I had hoped Updike would be a real treat, but this was one boring book. Not one character with whom you could identify. If an entire town was this dysfunctional, it would fade away. Don't think I want to read the other Updike books of the "rabbit" series. Not recommended for new mothers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book, Rabbit Run, Harry Angstrom runs away from his home. He runs away from an alcoholic wife, a simple job in the sales world, a young boy, and his soon to be daughter. Rabbit (Harry) is searching for his childhood life; he wants to go back to the days when he was the high school jock, and the star of the basketball team. Thinking that finding his old basketball coach will help him, he goes in search of Mr. Tothero. Tothero introduces him to a couple of friends, Margaret and Ruth, and by the end of the night Rabbit and Ruth become roommates. Rabbit seems to be happy until his wife, Janice, goes into labor and forces rabbit to leave Ruth and rush to the hospital. Throughout the rest of the book, Rabbit fights with the desire to return to Ruth, and the obligation he feels he has to Janice and their two children. The novel ends in such a dramatic way that you can¿t wait to begin reading the second book in the series. John Updike did a terrific job in creating the realistic fictional novel. The novel was easy to read, and just interesting enough to keep you into it. Updike uses simple vocabulary and his sentence structure is easy to follow. At some points the plot and descriptions John Updike chose were weak and a little dry, but overall the book was enjoyable. Hooray for Updike!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In John Updike¿s Rabbit, Run he reveals the stunning reality that is life. What happens to us during our high school years does not determine the rest of our lives. Harry Angstrom, the main character of the novel, was one of the best basketball players his school had ever seen. He was the popular kid in school everyone loved, and everything seemed so clear. Now he has run away from his wife and the fog has begun to set in. He begins to live his life with no responsibility for any of his actions. Updike does a wonderful job of painting the picture of Harry¿s life. He captures what a real dysfunctional family looks like. With the use of an extensive vocabulary Updike captivates every last detail in a scene. He describes every character¿s emotions and reactions to one another and he causes us to begin to have our own emotions and reactions towards the characters. Harry¿s life is not a happy or a sad one because there are so many different viewpoints to look from. He may seem happy now, but what happens when he gets bored with where he is? This book is a good to read, although it would be best if read by an experienced reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harry 'Rabbit' leaves his alcoholic pregnant wife, Janice and their child. I liked the book. It was very well written. I found that Updike kept the story moving making you want to see what would happen next. It's very true to real life, which is a scary thought! I can relate to the story easily. I thought both Rabbit and Janice were both very childish, irresponsible people which causes a horrible tragedy. It would have been nice if Rabbit or Janice learned something from their mistakes. Rabbit as a nickname for Harry is a good play on words.
ValerieAndBooks on LibraryThing 7 months ago
¿Rabbit, Run¿ is the first of four ¿Rabbit¿ novels by John Updike. In all four novels, (¿Rabbit, Run¿, ¿Rabbit, Redux¿, ¿Rabbit is Rich¿, ¿Rabbit at Rest¿), the main character is Harry ¿Rabbit¿ Angstrom. ¿Rabbit, Run¿ was published in 1960 and therefore, this book marks the 1950s era. The 1950s was a very straight-laced time, so I can only imagine how shocking ¿Rabbit, Run¿ must have been at that time (it has been banned and/or challenged in the past). Harry ¿Rabbit¿ Angstrom is 26 years old. He married ¿relatively late¿ at the age of 23, to Janice, three years his junior. At the start of the novel, he has a dead-end job selling vegetable peelers. Rabbit and Janice have a toddler with a second baby on the way. Janice is quite the heavy drinker; drinking even when she is late in her pregnancy. Rabbit feels how sordid his life is ¿ feels that Janice is losing her looks already and unpleasant to be around ¿ so he ¿runs away¿ (the title of the book reflects this theme). When he does, he meets a woman, Ruth, with a less than ideal background; and he immediately moves in with her.After about two months, Rabbit leaves Ruth for his wife (when she gives birth to their baby). Soon after , when tragedy strikes in the family, he runs back to Ruth again. The end of the book leaves in question who Rabbit will commit himself to. The phrase ¿commitment-phobe¿ was probably not around in the 1950s, but certainly applies to Rabbit; at least during this period of his life.There is much that happens in this book in between that I do not cover here, in order not to completely give away the plot. Even though Rabbit is only 26 years old, he seems to be already going through a mid-life crisis. Maybe because people tended to marry young back in the 1950s.There are some sexual scenes in this book; which I am sure were considered scandalous during the 50s, but probably seem relatively mild today.Some people might think, ¿gosh, I can see why this book has been banned; and gee, Rabbit is such a jerk. Who would want to read three more books about him?¿ Yet, I want to read the next book in the series! Why is that?It¿s because of the amazing writing by John Updike (at the time of this review, this book is the first Updike I¿ve ever read). Also, the storyline moves along at a good pace, and never bogs down. It took me only a couple days, really, to read this book. There are so many parts I¿d like to quote. Where do I start?!When Rabbit has left Janice, he drives away from their home (a fictional town near Philadelphia) and at one point he stops at a roadside cave in West Virginia at midnight for a coffee:¿¿he is unlike the other customers. They sense it too, and look at him with hard eyes, eyes like little metal studs pinned into the white faces of young men sitting in zippered jackets in booths three to a girl, the girls with orange hair hanging like wiggly seaweed or loosely bound with gold barrettes like pirate treasure. At the counter middle-aged couples in overcoats bunch their faces forward into the straws of gray ice-cream sodas. In the hush his entrance creates, the excessive courtesy the weary woman behind the counter shows him amplifies his strangeness. He orders coffee quietly and studies the rim of the cup to steady the sliding in his stomach. He had thought, he had read, that from shore to shore all America was the same. He wonders, Is it just these people I¿m outside or is it all America?¿Later on, in a different restaurant¿ a Chinese restaurant¿ where he meets his soon-to-be mistress ¿ they request to have the silverware taken away, so that they can use chopsticks:¿The waiter goes away like a bridesmaid with his bouquet of unwanted silver¿.Here is one of a few passages that might be why ¿Rabbit, Run¿ has been banned and/or challenged:¿Cupping a hand behind her hot sheltered neck, he pulls her up, and slides her slip over her head. It comes off with liquid ease. Clothes just fall from a woman who wants to be st
annbury on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is a brilliantly written novel that I found very difficult to like. That's not through any fault in the plotting: once you get into it, the plot carries you forward, asking at each crisis in Rabbit's life "will he? or won't he?". The problem, rather, is the characters, most of whom are very hard to like. Most notably, Rabbit himself, who never does (the responsible or unselfish thing, that is). This is the first Updike novel I have read, though I have read several of his short stories over the years. I have a gnawing desire to find out what happens to Rabbit, and will probably add the rest of the books to my constantly expanding "to read" list -- though I will not add them anywhere near the top.In many ways -- brilliant writing, compelling plot, unlikable characters -- the novel reminds me of Franzen's "Freedom".
ChelleBearss on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom was a high school basketball star and now life as an adult with real responsibilities isn't really what he thought it would be. Trapped in a crappy job and a marriage with a pregnant alcoholic Rabbit decides to flee at the spur of the moment. He has no idea where he is going, he has no idea where he wants to be; he just knows he doesn't want to stay there anymore. I would have thought it would be hard to enjoy a book in which I hated all the characters (and I mean all of them) but surprisingly I did enjoy it. Rabbit is a lazy, misogynistic man and his wife is a weak alcoholic that can't be on her own. Together they are horrible and apart they do horrible things. This is a dark, depressing book in which I hoped the characters could pull it together to do what they should but felt that it would probably get worse as it progressed and I was right. I plan on reading the rest of the tetralogy and since two of the books were awarded the Pulitzer Prize I imagine the series will only get better.
nycbookgirl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The story revolves around Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a twenty-six-year-old. He was a big basketball star back in high school but now he is married, sells vegetable peelers, and has a second child on the way. And he's unhappy. But it doesn't come right out and tell you he's unhappy.He's on his way home from work when he sees a bunch of kids playing basketball. He joins in and pretty much womps them. And he goes home and his wife is drinking and smoking (see...the differences between then and now?). And he's annoyed at her and that she's drinking. Oh, he's not annoyed because drinking is bad for the baby...no...it's because he's quit and she hasn't. So when he has to go pick up the car and she askes him to pick up a packet of cigarrets on his way home...he just leaves and doesn't come back.At first he tries driving to Florida. But somehow that doesn't work. He ends up in a nearby town and hooks up with another lady and starts living with her. And he's really conceited. And it's all just a muddled mess.And that's all I'm going to tell you. There is a part toward the end that is just shocking. Watch out because you might tear up on the subway, or miss your stop, or slack off responsibilities because you have to read it to the end then.What we all agreed on is that the story just sucked us in. And Rabbit wasn't a very like-able character. But then again he wasn't supposed to be. We still all agreed that even we didn't know why we still cared about what was going to happen when really NONE of the characters were really like-able. But maybe that's the point. We get flawed characters because really none of us are perfect. And who doesn't know of a person like Rabbit.I'm definitely going to read the other books in the series.
TimBazzett on LibraryThing 7 months ago
RABBIT, RUN was the first Updike book I read "minny minny" years ago. I found it in the college bookstore at CMU when I was looking for something else, probably something "classic" at the time, like The Rise of Silas Lapham or The Octopus or The Sound and the Fury. While I think I did read all of those books eventually, they never stayed with me like Rabbit did. I was just 23 and engaged to be married when I read - no, devoured - Rabbit, Run. What was there in me back then, I wonder, that drew me to dark tales about other people's messy lives and misery? I dunno, but for some reason I loved the story of hapless Harry Angstrom, who, like a small fearful animal, "lived inside his skin." Was that a quote from the book? Maybe, it seems familiar anyway. I have read probably a dozen or more other Updike books since 1967 - certainly not all of his stuff, but enough. All four Rabbit books, of course, but I also loved Of the Farm and The Poorhouse Fair and The Witches of Eastwick. And I did a senior paper on COUPLES, a book which was thought to be quite scandalous at the time, what with all its combinations of multiple couplings, bed-hopping (and laundry pile) adultery, and a seeming obsession with oral sex. The paper I wrote was pretty awful, as I remember, but at least it gave me a valid excuse to read what was then Updike's newest offering without feeling too guilty. RABBIT, RUN became required reading in most of the English classes I taught in the early 70s. I found that many of my students didn't share my enthusiasm for Updike or his Harry creation though. I remember one male student once remarking, "Mr Bazzett, ya know how there are some books that once you pick 'em up, ya just don't wanna put 'em down? Well, this Updike book, it's like once I put it down, I didn't wanna pick it up again." Well, I guess I understood his point of view, but I was a little hurt just the same that he didn't like one of my favorite books. And back then I was probably a little too much into exploring the "symbolism" of Updike's character names too. Eccles (Ecclesiates), Harry (a hare?), Angstrom (a tiny insignificant unit of measurement, or perhaps a "stream of angst"), Ruth ("whither thou goest - NOT!), Coach Tothero (t'other one), Mt Judge (self-explanatory), and on and on until my students probably just wanted to puke. I got out of teaching after five years, which was probably a good thing. I think I was one of those guys who ended up teaching English just because I loved literature and reading - which does NOT automatically make a good teacher. I don't cerebralize (is that a word?) the books I read much anymore. I just enjoy them. I re-read RABBIT,RUN again recently, after more than twenty years. It holds up well. It's still dark, tortured and an interesting look at the "human condition." But you know what? I don't like that kind of book so much anymore. I'd rather read a good love story, or maybe a memoir. At 65, maybe too much estrogen and not enough testosterone? Harry Angstrom is still a guy all serious students of American Lit should know though. And if you're a relatively new Lit student, here's something you might have missed. RABBIT,RUN was made into a pretty decent (if largely ignored) film around 40 years ago, with James Caan as Harry. If you haven't seen it, it's worth the rental price. Sadly, Updike finally put Rabbit to rest some years back (RABBIT AT REST) in the fourth book of the tetralogy. Personally, I think he shoulda kept him around a while. I'd like to know how he woulda been as a randy ol' septuagenarian. But that's probably just me. R.I.P., Harry. And many thanks to his master craftsman creator, John Updike. Write on, Mr. U!
jamguest on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Read similar books in plot (see Walker Percy¿s The Moviegoer). Found out after it was a literary response to the ideals presented in Kerouac¿s On The Road. Interesting. Works on the whole; though the priest seemed like he could¿ve been drawn out a little more sensibly and profoundly as he presented the antithesis to Rabbit. And what happened to Ruth? Rabbit just leaves her. Sad to know he didn¿t just end with him running and rather chose to do follow up books (which won awards, go figure). The best and most difficult part of the book (it took two months to read. Hey! I was busy too) was the present tense. Never come across that before and it¿s jarring. Updike is deliberate in his prose and it comes across as weighty and heavy (like Ruth! A little overweight). I liked it though. Interesting scene on how self-love ¿never ends up where you¿d think¿ towards pg 200. Would be good to do a literary exegesis.
elsyd on LibraryThing 7 months ago
My first John Updike book. It's a good story. Mainly it's about a man, like many high school and college jocks, who are never able to mature beyond their teen age years. It seems like life never lives up to their short time in the limelight, in their teenage years. Somewhat like the teenage alcoholic who never matures beyond the years they started drinking.Put either of the above two scenarios within a family that is somewhat dysfunctional and you have a recipe for disaster.
jeffome on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Sort of a roller-coaster ride of a novel, minus the exhilaration and excitement, unfortunately. Very inconsistent!!! I went from interested to barely interested to bored to slightly interested to very interested at the end.....just lucky i made it there. A tragic tale chock-full of some very pathetic class-less characters, none of which i really cared for at all. I could occasionally empathize with a given soul for the immediate situation, but none of them were blameless in their involvement. Am i really supposed to sympathize with these predicaments???? I mean....HELLOOO!! Stupid is as stupid does!!!!! And they say there are 3 more novels that follow the life of this dolt.....wow......not sure i'm up to it!!! With that said, there were some moments of insight into the mental gymnastics a damaged psyche can experience that allows rationalization and justification for truly bizarre behavior and responses to what occurs in their worlds. Sort of a revelation of the 'why' without justifying the 'right-ness' or 'wrong-ness'. Sad, sad people....and even more sadly, we likely are surrounded by similar types everyday in our own communities. So, I split the difference with a 2.5, and i'm gonna go in another direction for awhile and try to muster up the courage to tackle the rest of the series. Oh, and don't wait up.......it's likely to be a long while!
sarah-e on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Rabbit is the most unlikable character in any book I have ever read, ever. He's moody and manic with violent outbursts. he's completely self-obsessed - either whining about how he's not getting what he wants, or being violent and angry to get it. He deals with regret over his wasted high school potential first by running away, then by being really mean to women, then running away, then being mean to women.. etc. If there's one thing I can say I liked about the book, it was the description of what happens to Janice (the alcoholic wife) near the end of the story - writing that part from her perspective did draw me in, but as soon as Rabbit showed up I was out again. I can't believe people like this book. It's scary that anyone could relate to it; and I would expect that the sequels presented nothing more than whining, running, and being truly hateful toward women.
DBake on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Can't say I'm much of a fan of Updike. I appreciate his sparse style, and I envy his prolific working ability! But ultimately, I forget his books and stories, and I feel there is a common thread that they have of disliking and even demonizing women. Not sure what that's about, but it makes me uneasy.
debnance on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Rabbit is a little lost boy. His greatest days were spent on the high school basketball courts; he is bewildered to find that the rest of life is not nearly as wonderful. He marries and has a son, works in a tedious job. One day, he goes out for cigarettes and he just doesn¿t come back. He takes up with a woman and is befriended by a minister who longs to restore him to his previous existence. When his wife has their second child, Rabbit returns home, but Rabbit just can¿t seem to make everything work. I see now why this novel is one of those books that is on so many great contemporary novel lists. I want to read the three sequels just to see what becomes of this fellow. I am pretty sure I know Rabbit.
rizeandshine on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The best word I can use to describe this book is depressing. The self-serving protagonist, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, has no idea what he wants out of life and screws up everyone elses life running away from what he doesn't want, all the while thinking himself to be an altruistic and misunderstood individual. He has his bouts of self-loathing but they don't last long. There is enough of this irresponsible behavior in the world that I don't want to read a novel about unless it offers some hope for resolution or redemption. By the end of this novel, I have lost all hope for Rabbit. He's a loser and he will always be a loser, bringing down most everyone in his path. Sad.
mels_71 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Great writing but the depiction of life in this book is sad and depressing really.
oldblack on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This is an excellent portrait of a young (twenties) man who is confused about his place in the world, as perhaps most young men are. He is trying to sort out his relationship with his wife, his child, his parents, and another woman. He doesn't have much awareness of how these people might feel, and focuses instead on his own feelings, which is not a great recipe for relationship success. Indeed, the running Rabbit ends up doing is running from all his relationships. The relationship which seems to offer most hope to Rabbit is the one he has with 'his' pastor, who loves Rabbit despite his obvious faults and sins. No one understands this love and even the pastor himself has doubts. Rabbit isn't an attractive person but we're drawn into his life with a sort of morbid fascination, not unlike the way we stare at car accidents and other human tragedies. Rabbit is a lousy husband, father, son, and lover. It's somewhat depressing to see myself in him, but that's the point, isn't it?I'll be putting the remainder of the "Rabbit" series on my 'to read' list to see how Updike allows Rabbit to change as he ages and/or matures. Is there any hope in the world? At this point the answer seems to be 'no'.
amerynth on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The quote, "If you have the guts to be yourself.... someone else will pay the price...." pretty much sums up John Updike's "Rabbit, Run." It tells the story of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom" a high school basketball star who feels something is missing from his life as an adult so he takes off on his pregnant wife and son and takes up with a prostitute. While I can appreciate Updike's ability to put a good phrase together (hence the two star rating...) I really loathed the book itself. None of the characters had any redeeming qualities... I didn't care an ounce about any of them and nor did I find them the least bit interesting. I just wanted Rabbit to run faster so I could move on with this novel. The best thing I can say about it is that it's readable due to Updike's way with words.
jackkane on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The only interesting thing about 'Rabbit, Run' is the premise - a twenty-something provincial has-been decides to blow town. Great!The plot quickly sinks under a tsunamis of drivel. Updike's style is pretentious and precious. His descriptions are too elaborate and too dull. The writing is so spectacularly bad it would be funny in a less critically acclaimed book.Rabbit could have been a great character, a blue-collar tortured soul one could identify with and root for. Instead, Updike's Rabbit is a retarded misogynistic man-child worthy only of contempt. Rabbit fails as a protagonist and as an anti-hero. He's too pathetic and boring.Overall, a trashy novel from a hopeless hack.