Rabbit Redux by John Updike

After reading the second Rabbit book in John Updike’s series I hate him even more.

This time around Rabbit is a little older and trying to survive middle age and the turmoil of the 60s – the moon landing, Vietnam, it’s all in there. The real turmoil, though, is (once again) occurring in the Angstrom household. InRabbit, Runit was Harry running out on his marriage. This time it’s Janice trouncing around Brewer with another man (a car salesman, no less), but Rabbit still manages to find himself thrust into one lascivious situation after another.

Rabbit is a pimp.

The sequel is a bit more preachy than it’s predecessor. In fact, after Skeeter, a disgruntled black Vietnam vet/Jesus-wannabe, shows up that’s pretty much all that happens. Rabbit and his pre-teen son and Jill, Rabbit’s transient sex kitten, just sit around and listen to Skeeter preach. Updike discusses U.S. race relations and the Vietnam War through the character of Skeeter and Rabbit represents us, his willing audience. The preaching engulfs most of the back half of the story until the raging inferno puts an end to Rabbit’s love shack.

The facet I like best about Updike’s writing is how beautifully he describes two people bumping uglies. He truly was a literary genius and a raging pervert. He figured out more ways to get Rabbit laid than a porn director. On a personal level, I appreciate his crassness because I’ve been chastised in the past for my use of vulgarity in my literature. Defend his work as literary all you want, but Updike throws out the word cunt like he’s trying to unload the last of his Smarties in the closing minutes of Trick-or-Treat night. Check it out:

Seriously. No two alike, a billion cunts in the world, snowflakes. Touch them right they melt. What we most protect is where we want to be invaded.

Now that’s some beautiful perversion, folks.

I definitely enjoyed Updike’s original Rabbit novel better, but Rabbit Redux is still a stunning work by one of America’s great masters of the written word…a man I admire and despise more and more with each novel.


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on May 17, 2012.

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