Rabbit, Run, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The first book in his award-winning "Rabbit" series, John Updike's "Rabbit, Run" contains an afterword by the author in "Penguin Modern Classics".

It's 1959 and Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, one time high school sports superstar, is going nowhere.

At twenty-six he is trapped in a second-rate existence - stuck with a fragile, alcoholic wife, a house full of overflowing ashtrays and discarded glasses, a young son and a futile job.

With no way to fix things, he resolves to flee from his family and his home in Pennsylvania, beginning a thousand-mile journey that he hopes will free him from his mediocre life. Because, as he knows only too well, 'after you've been first-rate at something, no matter what, it kind of takes the kick out of being second-rate'.

John Updike (1932-2009) was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania.

He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year at Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.

From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of staff at "The New Yorker".

Updike was the author of twenty-one novels as well as numerous collections of short stories, poems and criticism, and is one of only three authors to win more than one Pulitzer Prize. His most famous works are the Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom series, all of which are published in "Penguin Modern Classics": "Rabbit, Run" (1960), "Rabbit Redux" (1971), "Rabbit is Rich" (1981) and "Rabbit at Rest" (1990).

If you enjoyed "Rabbit, Run", you might like Don DeLillo's "Americana", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "It is sexy, in bad taste, violent and basically cynical. And good luck to it". (Angus Wilson, "Observer"). "That special polish, that brilliance; Updike is among the best". (Malcolm Bradbury). "Brilliant and poignant...By his compassion, clarity of insight, and crystal-bright rose, [Updike] makes Rabbit's sorrow his and our own". ("Washington Post").




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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Updike seems to touch on all the tiny but important nuances of his characters’ inner lifes. The way Rabbit wants to get away from his wife in the beginning of the novel, the way he is suspicious about his old mentor, how he estimates the hierarchy at the table when meeting two new girls, how he fumbles and fools around with one of them, eventually reaching intimacy. How he establishes a strange friendship with the priest that wants him to go back home, and even stranger relationships with the priest’s wife and the old lady whose garden he attends, how Rabbit is unwanted and yet wanted by his family in law, etcetera etcetera. It’s a beautiful, vivid, mysterious picture of human feelings and relationships.

Review by

It's become quite fashionable to disparage John Updike as a misogynist. I hadn't read any of his work before and thought that the first of his Rabbit books would be a good place to start. Indeed it was, for I found Rabbit, Run to be a compelling and impressive read. This is writing that just sings. The book relates Harry Angstrom's efforts to avoid the responsibilities of an adult life and sure, the female characters are given less depth than they might but surely this merely reflects Harry's immature point of view. Harry is an entirely unsympathetic character - you wouldn't want read this if you needed to empathise with the main character or if all you want from a book is a rounded plot. Here the style of writing, the luxury of the prose is the top selling point. I shall be looking forward to reading Updike's other Rabbit books in due course.

Review by

Seemingly a polarising 'classic', but I don't see why anyone should have any doubts. Brilliantly written, with every character intriguing and their thoughts and speeches delivered with a brilliantly natural shambling, rambling style. A wonderful read, enhanced with the knowledge that it's the first in a series which contains two Pulitzer-winning sequels. A riotous rebuke to Kerouac and his ilk, from a liberal laying bare a kernel of conservatism.

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