Rabbit, Run by John Updike
A companion to Revolutionary Road in showing how 60s suburban America was the most luxurious of oppressive prisons for anyone that was slightly above average. I picked this up for $1 at the library book sale because it’s on the 100 Best Novels List.
Marriage before living together is a formula for unhappiness, and when Rabbit runs it’s not so hard to understand why. But when he essentially only runs next door, and stays away but not out of sight, sympathy thins. Rabbit’s wife Janice doesn’t get a voice in the story except for when she is drunk. Rabbit is that much of a dick that he allows his minor-character hooker a voice in his story but not his major-character wife.
Updike pours out gorgeous unpunctuated sentences that lead you on a trail – a trail where you must force yourself to read slowly so you don’t get lost. He can’t keep it up forever though, and the style becomes average right around the same time I start getting tired of Rabbit. A vigorous start, and while I’d like to find out what happens to Rabbit in the next three books, I don’t think I could read about that asshole any more.
Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his — or any other — generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.