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Rabbit is Rich (Penguin Modern Classics)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2010
Updike shows he is master of his subject and style here. If 'Rabbit Redux' lost its way a little after the critical triumph of 'Rabbit, Run', then here he is back on track. From the first page, with its focus on the American car industry of the 70's and early 80's, a subject that could be boring and off-putting as an opening to a novel, his mastery of both language and the subject on all levels,factual and metaphorical, is evident. The subject of the book is the mid-century male American. Rabbit is a man of limited education, heading up a Toyota dealership in Brewer, ( representing small town America), and well on his way to getting rich. He has plenty of earthly 'bread' but no spiritual sustenance whatever. He has appetites for life, sex, food and booze- all of which he satisfies readily and copiously, but his spiritual hunger is both unsatisfied and unacknowledged. Updike shows us an America getting rich as Rabbit does. The heyday of the huge gas-guzzling American car is just passing while new smaller models quickly take their place. We see the natural world continually eroded and destroyed by concrete: new roads, cheap malls and tacky ribbon developments. Rubbish from fast-food outlets and shops blows across the lots and open spaces, where odd trees endure as reminders of an older Brewer, fast disappearing and with it a way of life which, it is implied, was richer in terms of spiritual and community values. The town is evoked in layered details, where we see the older world built upon by the new, mirroring social change as well as changes in Rabbit and more distantly, the Republic itself.

Updike shows us Rabbit's friends and family as devoid of self-awareness and corrupted and alienated from their better selves, just as he is. The writing is metaphorical, lyrical and deeply satisfying. The bleakness of the subject is allieviated by the richness of the images, the profound understanding of human folly with which we all can identify and sympathise. For Rabbit is an Everyman figure, standing in for human needs during mid-twentieth century industrial development. Yet despite the pessimism that underlies the presentation of this world, we see, as Rabbit does, by glimpses, another state of being that engages, even if briefly, with the more permanent aspects of human existence. The theme of renewal and redemption is offered up as a possibility at the end of the novel by arrival of new life, Rabbit's baby grand-daughter.
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on 23 July 2013
Describing Rabbit's experiences of American life in the late 70's and early 80's, Updike treats us to a giant banquet of a book.(Actually a series of books: I read Rabbit is Rich and then this one, virtually together)
Hundreds of pages full of sumptuously meticulous observations which convey so vividly the hero's inner narrative - all the details that in normal life remain undisclosed. Men like Rabbit don't tend to share a lot of their intimate emotions, but, in this glorious novel, they are expertly articulated for our exquisite delight.

His irritations, insecurities, deceptions, doubts, preoccupations, perceptions, loves, lusts are all here. As are his likes & dislikes, threats to his ego & boosts to it, successes & failures, sources of pride & causes of worry, aspirations & disappointments, satisfactions & frustrations . Tensions, rivalries, habits, comforts. Secret longings, secret fears, secret memories. The subtle characteristics of his companions, the unique experiences their company brings. The environmental cues which surround him, some inspiring, some depressing, but most in between, mundane yet evocative.

Rabbit is certainly rich - his life, like all our lives, is chock full of poignant moments, nuances and insights that we never normally express. We rely on great authors like Updike to reassure us how rich indeed we all are.
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on 14 August 2011
We've moved on to the late 1970s and Rabbit is middle-aged, reasonably comfortable and reasonably affluent. He's finally living the true American dream. The dramatic canvass of RABBIT IS RICH is smaller than that of the second in the series, and is a return to the domestic angst of the first. But it's none the less potent for that. Harry Angstrom has finally settled down. He's left his sometimes extreme behaviour behind him. Now he's primarily concerned with the more quotidian aspects of life, worrying as he does about his marriage, his business, his wayward son, and his possible extra-marital fathering of another child. He's still conflicted, although his moral dilemmas are now closer to home. He's still flawed, but now he seems to be gaining some wisdom. Once more this is everyman stuff written in Updike's typically lean, sharp, and insightful prose. Another essential slice of small-town Americana that packs a universal message.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2001
Here we are back with Rabbit, and I found it a slow start after Rabbit Redux. But it all feels right - Rabbit has taken over his father-in-law's business, has moved back in with his wife and is living with his mother-in-law.
As can be expected, Rabbit is not happy, and his realisation that Nelson (his son) is encroaching on his "territory" makes him angry. A mid-life crisis? No, Rabbit has had too many crises; this is just Rabbit kicking against mortality.
His golf club cronies provide light relief, but the set piece involves them on a Caribbean vacation and more than justifies the slowness of the start. As ever, Updike's sensuous use of prose is beautiful, over-rich but it works for me.
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on 9 April 2015
A subtle and powerful book.
Conveys middle-aged angst in immensely readable prose that can be unsentimental, funny, moving.
Harry Angstrom reflects the modern condition in a consumerist, self-centred society better than any fictional character I have come across.
His alpha-male impulses and ambitions are balanced by the complex realities of family life, friends and business. And above all, sex.
Updike builds his character through a mix of daily events and Harry's innermost thoughts in a kind of stream of consciousness, exposing human nature in all its shades and colours.

One of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
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For me this is the best of the "Rabbit" novels , it's an absolute masterpiece , so perfectly written and with rich , believable characters . Of course , all 4 in the series are superb so it's a thin line....
This just shades it above "Rabbit Redux" and takes it's place as one of the best novels ever written and a firm contender in the fabled Great American Novel stakes .
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on 21 October 2014
An uncomfortable read, often, as Updike dissects the shallow desires of a late-20th century American middle-aged man but the novel is never less than fascinating. Updike's use of multi-layered detail creates a perfect portrayal of "Rabbit" Angstrom and his family that never fails to fascinate.
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on 15 March 2013
This is the third of the Rabbit novels by John Updike and I think the best so far. A wonderful insight into the lives of ordinary Americans in the late 70s. It stands alone but it is better if you read the preceeding books in the series..
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on 27 May 2015
First class narration and continues the Rabbit story. First rate plot and although setting is 1979 to 1980 completely undated ideas and comments
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on 8 December 2012
I don'tacually no why I like the Rabbit books so much. They are just about an ordinary guy trying to live his life.But it draws you in. Rabbit is great
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