# Saturday, March 23, 2019

RabbitRunHarry "Rabbit" Angstrom isn't much good at anything. In high school, he was an outstanding basketball player, but he has accomplished little since then. After tasting that early success, life feels empty at 26 - trapped in a boring job and a loveless marriage to an alcoholic wife.

So, one day, he abandons his pregnant wife Janice and their toddler son and moves in with a prostitute.

Rabbit - the main character of John Updike's 1960 novel Rabbit, Run - is decidedly unlikeable. He is self-absorbed and shallow and oversexed and manipulative. Still, those around him seem to like him and are more than willing to give him multiple chances to prove his integrity. It may be because he says and does whatever comes into his head. But his tendency toward immediate gratification is his main problem and often comes at a high cost to others. Rabbit never considers the consequences of his actions or the people he hurts as he runs from his responsibilities and obligations.

In particularly examples of self-absorption and manipulation, he coerces his lover into performing fellatio, because he learns she once did it for someone else. The next morning, he abandons his lover and returns to his wife without even a phone call. A few weeks later, he storms out of his apartment when his wife refuses to have sex with him shortly after giving birth.

Updike has a way of keeping the reader engaged, even during the most mundane moments. We see inside Rabbit's mind and feel his rationalizations. But the story isn't just about Rabbit. Updike tells the thoughts of the others in Rabbit's lives and their troubles. And many of them also run from their troubles - particularly Janice, who escapes into alcohol.

Of course, the most dramatic parts of the story are also engaging. I could not look away as Updike described the inevitable tragedy near the end of the book. Rabbit's wife is home with their baby, and she is drinking when "the worst thing that has ever happened to any woman in the world has happened to her." We see it coming a mile away, but it is still a shock, when it happens.

Rabbit, Run is a good look into the psyche of an American male trying to find himself, and what happens when he focuses too much on that goal.

Saturday, March 23, 2019 8:08:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
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