Book #39: Rabbit, Run. John Updike, 1960. Fail.


John Updike’s novel “Rabbit, Run” is depressing. I am finding that I can only read a few pages at a time before I am not longer in the mood to read and I put it down. This is making a massive dent in my allotted time to complete this challenge. And I know I said I have to finish every book but this one is paining me! It’s only 264 pages – I should have been able to finish this in one sitting! 

Why is it so hard for me to read?

Right now I have no compassion for this man, I have no empathy for him. Excuse my blindness but so far I am reading about a man who looks back to his glorious high-school days and pities the life he has now. Running out on his pregnant wife and child to have sex with a hooker… the thoughts he has and the way he speaks and thinks…. What do I feel for him? He is embodying things I hate.

John Updike evokes incredibly moving imagery, he is a master of vocabulary, twisting simple words into complex thoughts, there is no doubt this is a talented writer. It is the content I’m having an issue with.

I don’t like Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.

I have read a few articles and reviews on the book, so I already know how it ends. I cheated. How naughty of me. But the ending offers no hope for me that I will find solace in finishing it.

This is not a good man, what is the point? This is not an extraordinary tale. It seems to be very ordinary at this point. Perhaps that is my problem – am I putting too pressure on books? Am I asking too much? Or asking the wrong thing? Maybe I haven’t read enough of the book yet. This is not the world I want to be whisked away too.  I have known people like this man and they are not extraordinary, but weak, and sad and I don’t want to read about it.

If someone can tell me why I should keep reading this, perhaps I will, but for now I am putting a bookmark in Rabbit, Run and moving on.

As far as the challenge goes, I think my above rant does still address some questions I have been posing to myself, as I did in book #40, for example: Rabbit’s character and his conflicts, how engaging I found it to be, what I appreciate about the work (more-so the writer in this case), and thoughts about humanity.

I am disappointed in myself for not (YET) finishing this novel. One day perhaps, when I have another perspective, I will return. Until then, this is a challenge fail.

Next: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1890


2 thoughts on “Book #39: Rabbit, Run. John Updike, 1960. Fail.

  1. Oh Ali, I admire your fortitude! I have not read said book, but have just checked the (mixed) reviews, one of which echos your sentiments beautifully: “I’m sorry I think I might have to pause before the start of this review and scream discretely into a pillow:


    Phew, that’s better, very cathartic. This is yet another book from the 1001 books list which has made me question whether or not the people who write the list actually like people who read books or if they are really secretly intent on torturing us all for their own amusement?

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