Rabbit Redux, Paperback Book

Rabbit Redux Paperback

Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


It's 1969, and the times are changing. America is about to land a man on the moon, the Vietnamese war is in full swing, and racial tension is on the rise.

Things just aren't as simple as they used to be - at least, not for Rabbit Angstrom.

His wife has left him with his teenage son, his job is under threat and his mother is dying.

Suddenly, into his confused life - and home - comes Jill, an eighteen-year-old runaway who becomes his lover.

But when she invites her friend to stay, a young black radical named Skeeter, the pair's fragile harmony soon begins to fail ...


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Review by

Presumably the dud of Updike's Rabbit sequels, this instalment was obsessed with sleaze and slavery, whisking us away from the superb stories of its predecessor and instead harping on endlessly about black messiahs and middle-class concubines. The sub-plot involving Rabbit's wife Janice comes closer to the magic of the first book in the series, and ultimately saved me from hating this one.

Review by

This is the second in the Updike series about Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom and his life has moved on ten years. Rabbit appears to have made his peace with the world and has settled down. He works as a typesetter in the same print-shop where his father has worked for more than thirty years (a trade that will soon to be replaced by new technology.) Rabbit is much more passive than in the first book settling for ordinary rather than going out and grabbing adventure against the backdrop of the first landing on the moon, racial unrest back at home and protests against the Vietnam War. Rabbit is out of time, as a new age of space exploration begins. The astronauts become a metaphor for this more dynamic era.In Rabbit, Run, Rabbit left Janice for a mistress. In Rabbit Redux, Janice leaves Rabbit to live with her lover, Stavros. Rabbit acquiesces to this affair and stays home to care for his son, Nelson. Rabbit becomes a figure of jest and is seen as backward. When he accepts an invitation from a work colleague to visit a black frequented bar Rabbit ends up taking in Jill, a runaway flower child, and Skeeter, a bail-jumping Vietnam War veteran and black radical.The rival claims of freedom and responsibility are explored from several different points of view. After twice deserting his wife in the earlier novel Rabbit is now trying to maintain a home in the face of increasing odds. This time his wife experiments with freedom by having an affair. Harry learns about this at a bar where the television repeatedly shows Apollo 11 blasting off to the moon revealing the emptiness in his life at the very moment that America is ready to explore far off horizons.The drug-crazed Jill and Skeeter offer two more examples of the contest between freedom and responsibility. Both think of themselves as being free from the rules of convention. Skeeter's experience in Vietnam he believes that America is morally bankrupt and instead offers a mad vision of himself as a black Messiah. Whilst Jill expects to find love and freedom by rejecting the materialism, but instead she is sexually exploited and left to die in a burning house.In the first book I found Rabbit to be selfish and arrogant and as such found it hard to empathise with but I found it much more likeable in this book. In Rabbit Run Harry felt that as a former local basketball star he was owed something by society and had a standing within it. Ten years later he has learnt that past glories count for nothing and that he has virtually been forgotten. He is rarely called Rabbit any more. I found it much easier to imagine a man trying to knuckle down,plod along and do the best he can by his family unable to keep pace with the ever increasing pace of technology. Harry still believes in the American way but America has little need for him and he loses virtually everything his wife, job and house forcing him to return to his parents home to live. A rather bleak outlook on modern American society.After reading the first book I was unsure whether or not I really wanted to revisit Rabbit but having read this one am now quite keen to read more about him although it may be a while.

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