Monday, November 21, 2011

Rabbit, Run

Rabbit, RunRabbit, Run – John Updike
Evan’s ESS = 7 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = (Adult Content, Language, Sexual Content, Domestic Dysfunction, Running)

Why: Whew buddy, this one was intense.  Had it not been read on an e-reader, there’s a high probability that it would have been chucked across the room.  It literally took us four months before we felt comfortable revisiting Rabbit, Run in review form.  We’ve said before that novels that move us emotionally deserved to be praised. Huh, well, we might need to revise our stance...

Harry Angstrom’s life pretty much peaked in high school as a standout basketball player.  Now, with his second child on the way and nursing an unfulfilling job selling kitchen appliances, Harry wants out.  Specifically, he wants to run... like a rabbit, although that’s his nickname too.  The rest of the novel is pretty much concerned with where Rabbit decides to run.  Oh, and there’s this huge “Jude the Obscure” event that happens near the end too.     

Let’s just get it on the table.  We can’t stand Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.  In his inability to adjust to adult life and the responsibilities that follow, he chooses a path of cowardice and selfishness at every turn.  He shows almost zero remorse for the impact his poor decision making has on those around him and thinks that by simply showing up; the world owes him a debt of gratitude.  Furthermore.... actually, we better force a topic change before we say something we’ll regret.

Honestly, the novel was intriguing.  The controversial subject matter was presented in a very realistic and fair manner.  Love, marriage and family were all explored throughout and the narrative pulled no punches as it ventured into the most uncomfortable and awkward situations.  Despite our oft irritation at the main character, the story kept us engaged until the very end.  And then, just like in Jude the Obscure, the event that took place in the bathroom knocked us off the couch (and nearly made us nauseous).  Oh, how we wish we could elaborate...        

Bravo to Updike for taking on a topic as universal as personal responsibility and presenting it in such a unique manner.  Unfortunately, ole Rabbit was just a little too unlikable and the event at the end made us squirm a little too much.  We’re still unsure if we’ll continue on with the series, but we’d love to hear thoughts from someone who’s read Rabbit Redux...      


  1. I admire your patience with this one. I finished it but I also couldn't stand Rabbit and it came across as uncomfortable and misogynistic.

  2. Wow, I almost picked this up not too long ago...but think I'm going to skip it now. I just hate to read about a character I dislike. I can hate them, I can loath them...but I can't stand to dislike them...that just annoys me and really if that's the point of the novel...I'm ok...

  3. Teacher/Learner – I had to look that last word up – very accurate though. Thanks for helping me expanding my vocabulary!

    The Librarianreads – I’d put this one near the bottom of your TBR list. It’s probably worth your time at some point, but not a priority. Rabbit is somewhere in the middle of loath and dislike...

  4. I read Rabbit, Run in 2010 and had similar reactions. Needless to say, Rabbit, Redux has been sitting on my TBR pile unread for the last year. I do mean to read it at some point but it's not something I'm dying to pick up, by any means.