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A Rabbit Omnibus Paperback – 7 Nov 1991

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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (7 Nov. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014015809X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140158090
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He attended Shillington High School, Harvard College and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford, where he spent a year on a Knox Fellowship. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of the New Yorker, to which he contributed numerous poems, short stories, essays and book reviews. After 1957 he lived in Massachusetts until his death.

John Updike's first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published in 1959. It was followed by Rabbit, Run, the first volume of what have become known as the Rabbit books, which John Banville described as 'one of the finest literary achievements to have come out of the US since the war'. Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Other novels by John Updike include Marry Me, The Witches of Eastwick, which was made into a major feature film, Memories of the Ford Administration, Brazil, In the Beauty of the Lilies, Toward the End of Time and Villages. He has written a number of volumes of short stories, and a selection entitled Forty Stories, taken from The Same Door, Pigeon Feathers, The Music School and Museums and Women, is published in Penguin, as is the highly acclaimed The Afterlife and Other Stories. His criticism and his essays, which first appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, have been collected in five volumes. Golf Dreams, a collection of his writings on golf, has also been published. His Collected Poems 1953-1993 brings together almost all the poems from five previous volumes, including 'Hoping for a Hoopoe', 'Telephone Poles' and 'Tossing and Turning', as well as seventy poems previously unpublished in book form. The last books of his to be published by Hamish Hamilton were My Father's Tears and Other Stories, and Endpoint and Other Poems. He died in January 2009.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
It's not difficult to see why Updike's Rabbit tetralogy has been so well received. True, the life of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom is sometimes humdrum and his actions often of dubious morality, but Updike treats his hero with such humanity that it's impossible not to feel some sort of sympathy towards him; many writers have indeed admitted a sneaking admiration for the character. Quite apart from this subtle treatment of his characters, Updike's writing is a delight. His use of metaphor is always apt and yet somehow understated: it never screams 'look at me' as some other writers in this mould tend to. Arguably the most important achievement of this work, however, is the magnificent encapsulation of middle America that it achieves. Each of the books is closely linked to its period in American history, and it accurately portrays the hopes, aspirations and ultimately cynicism of two generations of Americans. It's as much a work of social history as an engrossing tetralogy of novels.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Carroll on 23 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
In this trilogy, John Updike manages to chronicle a man's role in average American society from the late 1950s to the dawn of the 1980s.
The stories revolve around Rabbit Angstrom and, as an average American man, relatively little happens. The stories don't build to a big climax, they simply describe how this one man interacts with those around him and reacts to the events in his life. Some of his actions aren't what a typical person would do, but this irrationality possibly furthers just how realistic the character is.
Throughout the trilogy, John Updike manages to describe the things that many other novels can't. This is partly due to writing throughout in present tense. Descriptions that would seem contrived in another style can be used here, with amazing effect. The world somehow becomes believable. Anyone that bothers to describe the sound a bottle of fizzy drink makes when opened, and actually manages to make this fit in, is someone special indeed. The way that the narrative follows Rabbit's stream of consciousness is particularly clever, with odd perceptions of things in the world around him, such as the way the back of the car lot makes him think of Paraguay. It seems to be a ridiculous link, but this is what really happens in life!
The only downside for me is that in the second book, Rabbit Redux, the narrative loses something. Big, life changing events happen seemingly often in this book, and the irrational behaviour that usually makes the characters seem human becomes too much. Rabbit's actions become confounding, and instead of documenting this normal man's life, it becomes almost like a soap opera. The true quality shines in Rabbit, Run and Rabbit is Rich.
The trilogy is a must for anyone interested in 20th Century literature and society. It will certainly make you want to read the fourth book and should confirm that the author is truly a great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rusty on 5 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
I loved all three Rabbit novels in this collection. I took long breaks in between each book, meaning that it took me almost 2 years to actually finish all three of them (they're quite long and the language is dense)...but this somehow enriched the experience of following Harry Angstrom's descent into suburban mediocrity.

I think Updike's chief skill in this instance is how he manages to suffuse his prose with a melancholy wistfulness - a yearning for things that have passed and things that will never come to pass. Harry Angstrom once thought he would be somebody. We watch slowly as he ages and reminisces...and sees the dreams of youth turn into the cold, hard facts of middle-age. He is just another person, living another life...swept away on the tide that seems to steal us all away from whatever we believe our true destiny to be.

All three novels are remarkable achievements. The first novel ("Rabbit, Run") is pure Updike gold, capturing Rabbit's fears in his late 20s. I do think the second novel, "Rabbit Redux", stretched my believability a bit - and has dated slightly, being so intrinsically linked to the 1960s. The third novel, "Rabbit is Rich" was sublime...although the borderline obsession with genitalia became quite repetetive at times.

The chief protagonist, Harry Angstrom, is essentially an untrustworthy guy: he's got his flaws and Updike makes sure that we continually know about them. Yet somehow, Angstrom's burning nostalgia for his town, his family and his nation makes up for this...he is the most likeable anti-hero I've ever come across in literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.Silver on 19 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
The first book I read by John Updike was The Witches of Eastwick, which I did not enjoy. However, I borrowed the Rabbit Omnibus from the library and it soon became my favourite book, which is why, when I finally found it on amazon, I bought it immediately.
For me, Harry Angstrom is an utterly convincing character and the fact Updike does not try and make him loveable throughout the entirety of the books is VERY refreshing (after reading countless novels, where the hero/heroine is perfect, attractive, talented, successful).
Updike's writing in Rabbit, Run is sublime. He finds beautiful detail in the most tiny, insignificant things and Harry's conscious thoughts are an absolute delight to read. Ordinary, every-day occurences become steeped in description, but often, it is not the sort of description you'd expect or things that are described are not the sorts of things that you would expect to hear about. Updike also has a knack of describing things in unorthodox ways, for example, light might be described as a sound or a taste and when Harry is playing golf, objects around him become people he knows, members of his family, showing how he feels, without really saying it. It is so enjoyable to read. Also, in Rabbit, Run, Harry's feelings for Ruth are so beautifully described. The emotion, tenderness and feeling pours off the page, even better than in some romance novels, where the characters really are in love.
There are some very long sections of description, which, if you are not really into the book, can seem long and tedious. I also agree with another of the reviews with regards to Rabbit Redux. Some parts of it are not as good as the others and although the relationships are interesting and the character developments intriguing, some of it tends to be a bit over the top.
It would not seem possible that the life of an average man could be so fascinating but, in my opinion, Updike has made it into something spectacular.
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