My first book from Updike is his second novel Rabbit, Run; the first from his tetra logy of Rabbit novels. I don’t know if I’ve said this before but I loved to read about things in which I know I wouldn’t particularly possess in life, if you know what I mean. Rabbit or Harry Angstrom is a high-school basketball star in which on an impulse deserts his alcoholic wife and two-year old son. For he believes he is on the right path and running away from them is his only salvation. Basically, John Updike’s novel can be summed up in just three parts (which of course I wouldn’t carelessly divulge). But this realization comes up to the reader just after the book is closed. Although Rabbit’s stubbornness might irritate the reader, what he believes is a realization some of us at one time of our lives considered, our pride. Since he is a price possession in high school as a basketball player, does he really deserve this kind of treatment from his family? If not, he then starts to find a way to make his life better thus bears the title, Rabbit, Run.
Updike also triumphantly makes the unlikeable likeable, by making some of his character shares their side of the story making them not at what the reader perceives them as delinquent and stubborn. Like in real life, one’s actions are not really what make a person.
The time I first read the novel, I was utterly fascinated by Updike’s prose. It is something I never encountered before and at times I have to stop to absorb its depth and beauty. Written in 1960 and still at a young age (same as the 28 year old Rabbit), I’m sure at the time that Updike is much ahead to his contemporaries, and now considered as one of the greatest American writers. It is also such a skill for Updike in making the novel not to have a dated feel.
The novel’s conclusion is really unexpected. I myself roots for a more satisfying ending hoping it to have a moral conclusion, or at least for Rabbit to have salvation and reconciliation with what everybody perceives as his wrong doing. In turn, it is something rather of a cliffhanger and I guess if I was born earlier before the novel’s publication in 1960, waiting for eleven years to come to finally know what happened on the sequel (Rabbit Redux, 1971) will seem eternity to me. Rabbit, Run is listed on The List of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.
Rabbit, Run was made into a film in 1970 with a catchy tag-line for its poster that reads “3 months ago Rabbit Angstrom ran out to buy his wife cigarettes. He hasn’t come home yet.”. Time Magazine also included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.