Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom was a star high school basketball player, which was pretty much the highlight of his life. It's all been downhill from there. Now he's a little older, and his job and marriage are miserable and unfulfilling. One day on a whim he gets in his car and keeps driving. Except then he turns right back, but instead of going home shacks up with someone else for a few months, while a priest keeps trying to get him to reconcile with his pitiful wife.

I bought this book in a used bookstore in Kansas City, along with a stack of other old paperbacks. The owner commented that this one was "excellent" (the only other title that received a comment besides that was George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier, which is allegedly also "excellent").

Other than one short story, I'd never read John Updike before, and I had a really hard time getting through this book. I couldn't stand any of the characters, except for maybe Ruth, the former prostitute. (Which I suppose doesn't necessarily make for a bad book, but that wasn't my experience this time.) Rabbit's wife is completely helpless. I pictured her as some kind of a pathetic blob of a human being, and quite frankly, I wish Rabbit had kept running that very first day and hadn't turned back. Although at the same time I didn't particularly like Rabbit either.

I have to assume Updike's work developed over time considering his literary reputation but this book did not make me want to read anything else of his.

By the way, I had no idea this had been made into a movie. Starring James Caan, no less!

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