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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Rabbit at Rest (Penguin Modern Classics)
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on 17 February 2016
I didn't find this a very easy book to read with very long, lumpy sentences and pages and pages of seemingly endless inner monologue. The level of detail was boring and excessive throughout even including, at one point, the page by page content of the history book Rabbit was reading.
I also found it generally depressing ; no aspect of the human condition is left out, everything is there in graphic detail.
However ........it is a good book.
Parts of it are totally absorbing and even gripping.
I came away with a strong sense of having almost lived someone else's life.
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on 6 July 2009
This is by far the best of the four Rabbit books in my opinion, but, as others have said, you should read the others first for maximum enjoyment, and they are all very well worth reading. Updike sometimes places a bit too much emphasis on sex in his novels, for my taste, and Harry's epsidode with his daughter-in-law is not entirely convincing to this reader, but I still think this novel Rabbit at Rest is unsurpassed in 20th Century American fiction, even against such lively contenders as Philip Roth's An American Pastoral, Richard Ford's Independence Day or Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road.

To mention but one episode, Harry's lone drive to Florida, reflecting his flight in the earlier Rabbit Run, is an extraordinary tour-de-force with the car radio bombarding Harry's brain cells with news items current at the time (baseball results, evangelist Jim Bakker's trial, an ailing new-born panda, the Lockerbie bombing aftermath) and with "golden-oldie" radio programmes, evoking exquisitely painful/pleasurable memories of long-ago girlfriends, including his wife Janice, the "little mutt" who worked at the nut counter in Krolls long since defunct Department Store, whom he is currently running away from (yet again.)

A wonderful book and definitely in my top ten.
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on 27 June 2011
The final in the quartet of justly renowned Rabbit books, this last book does what all the other three do so emphatically well: they create an intensely felt sense of time and place. The chararcters, while we read the novel, are almost as real and known to us as our own friends and family. Updike has a gift for metaphorical language and a poet's ear and eye for the world he creates. This book gathers up many threads and story- lines from the other books to round off the quartet in a satisfying way (perhaps just a little too neatly sometimes) but that is my only criticism of this supberb piece of writing. It just doesn't get any better. Updike is the master of the American novel and his unflinching gaze on small town America, its values and social mores, is as acute and sometimes savage as it could get.

Some sections are miraculous tours de force in their own right and could be lifted out of the novel as stand-alone short stories or essays. Rabbit's appearance as Uncle Sam in the Parade, the visit of the Japanese Toyota dealer and his devastating critique of American business and social ethics and the hosptial visits that Rabbit endures are wonderfully evoked and fit seamlessly into the novel as a whole. Updike rarely hits a false note and you can only marvel at his prose.

The miracle for me is that while I know Rabbit with all his faults and failures to be a really appalling human being in so many ways, yet I feel such affection for him and regret that this is the last of the four books. Read the others first though because you'll get so much more from this book if you do.
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on 30 January 2003
'Rabbit at Rest' is the final book in John Updike's 'Rabbit' series and MUST NOT BE READ BEFORE THE OTHERS!!
There's not much one can say about the plot without ruining the ending, but it will suffice to say that Updike's anti-hero (the wonderfully vivid Harry Angstrom), is now retired and battling with the side-effects of his junk food diet, as well as with his family - particularly the idiosyncracies of his son, Nelson. Here, Updike's themes are those of mortality, generational differences, and (of course) the nature of sexual relationships.
As always, Updike's prose is sharply honed and highly readable, and he eschews purple prose in order to convey the depth of his philosophical musings. On top of this, it is my firm belief that Angstrom is the most marvellously portrayed character in the contemporary American literature.
Read it, then read 'Licks of Love' - it contains a 'Rabbit' novella.
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on 22 February 2011
Bought as a replacement for my water damaged hardback first edition. Well worth the re-read. Follows Rabbit Angstrom through his mid and later life trials and travels, Far from being at rest, he is put through family and social dramas against a background of late 20th century USA. It is beautifully written, and an engaging account of this apparently prosaic hero.
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VINE VOICEon 23 July 2011
An ironic title for the last Updike's Rabbit quadrology. The last days of 1988, Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom is retired, morbidly obese and waiting at the Southwest Florida Regional airport for his son Nelson to arrive with wife Theresa, known as Pru, and his grandchildren Judy and Roy. Pan Am 103 has just exploded over Lockerbie. Rabbit and his wife Janice now retreat to Florida during winters, returning to their home in Brewer, Pennsylvania for summers. Rabbit spends his days on the golf course, Nelson is managing the family business, the Toyota dealership and used car lot back home in Brewer, Pennsylvania. But no one is at rest. As in Rabbit Redux drugs enter Rabbit's life again, but they signify only death and ruin, crack cocaine, early antivirals used to fight AIDS, and the nitroglycerine Rabbit has to take to his failing heart. This is an aching paen to the life of one man, never particularly admirable and often morally repulsive, but an incredible creation.
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on 12 August 2015
The final volume in the series, and we have moved on another ten years to 1988-89. Harry is in semi-retirement in Florida, living with Janice in a condominium they bought on the Gulf Coast, while their son, the insufferable Nelson, continues to take a large salary out of the Toyota dealership. Harry is piling on weight and feels the tug of his mortality amidst the aged retirement community among whom they spend the winter months. They story begins in late December, with the visit of Nelson, wife Pru and Harry’s two grandchildren to visit them. It soon becomes apparent that matters are not right at all with the ever-prickly Nelson and the reader should soon spot what the problem is, and the impact this has on the family business and domestic life. While taking Judy, his granddaughter out sailing, Rabbit suffers a coronary and his ill-health adds to the problems with Nelson. Matters come to a head when Harry decides he can no longer face an inquisition on his apparent bad behaviour from a newly-independent Janice, and he escapes to Florida.
As always with John Updike, the observation of life and the darned untidiness and absolute beauty of just being alive, of human existence, is captured so well and so feelingly. Although Harry is widely perceived in the literary community as being a selfish character, there is so much to like about him and he engages his reader’s empathy and emotions. I will miss him.
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on 11 February 2014
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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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2012
It's taken me a little while to get round to reading this final novel in the Rabbit series, not least because I wanted to have it to look forward to. While I feel Rabbit Run is the best in the series, this was my second favourite. Once again Updike manages to pull off a vividly personal story of Harry Angstrom's continuing struggles, with himself and those around him, against the backdrop of America in the 20th century. No mean feat.

The fact that Harry, for all his weaknesses and foibles, remains almost entirely endearing is quite an achievement. He is so utterly human in the way he recognises his own weaknesses, rails against them even, yet cannot seem to stop himself making the same mistakes over and over, best exemplified in his relationships with his own son and with the women in his life. Only his grandchildren bring out the best in him (how true!) and cause him to swallow his pride and open up emotionally.

The writing, once again, is superb, almost unparallelled in my view.

I look forward to acquiring Licks of Love so that I can read the final Rabbit episode.
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on 24 June 2012
Another decade on and Harry `Rabbit' Angstrom is well into his middle-age. He's 56, overweight, and still living the American dream. He splits his time between the old home town in Pennsylvania and his condo in Florida. All should be well, but his cokehead son is running the family business into the ground and Harry is eating himself to death. As flawed and human as ever Harry is still struggling to balance his conflicting impulses. He's the product of an excessive USA, and consumes with gusto. His opinions are still modelled by the media and corporate American mores. Selfishness and lechery are still getting the better of him. And his health is suffering badly from his indulgences. But Harry is incapable of moderating his behaviour. He can't even resist his own uncertain daughter-in-law; with predictable consequences. And Rabbit is tired. He's swiftly wearing out. Finally he decides that maybe enough is enough. So long, Rabbit. I, for one, shall miss you.
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