Review: Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

And now the epic conclusion to one of the greatest series in literature…

I was worried that Rabbit and Updike would go out with a whimper after the less than satisfying outing in Rabbit is Rich (no one wants to read a story about a guy whose life is great), but Updike finished strong with probably the best outing for Rabbit since the original Rabbit, Run.

This time Rabbit is an old dude doing typical old dude things. He’s retired from the car lot, overweight, and splits his time between Pennsylvania and Florida. It seems almost sacriligious for Updike to start the action anywhere but Brewer and the early Florida chapter is the least satisfying part of the book, but once Rabbit and family make their way back to Brewer following his heart attack, everything falls into place.

Unfortunately, much of the action revolves around the ridiculously annoying Nelson and a drug addiction that plummets the family’s fortunes into the toilet. Janice is also her usual unbearable self to the point you can almost forgive Rabbit’s many (MANY!) indescretions. Thankfully Rabbit is his usual disastrous self as he fucks his way into trouble time and time again. Two classic Rabbit moments include him banging his son’s wife (ha!) and telling Ronnie Harrison that his wife was a great lay at her funeral (Oh Rabbit…).

Updike’s language is just as flawless as ever in the final installment and his writing just as tight. My hatred for the man has subsided, replaced by nothing but respect. I was worried about how Updike would choose to send Rabbit off, but the master did not disappoint. In a nice circular story structure, Rabbit finally completes the escape he began in the first novel and the last activity we see him doing is playing a pick-up game of basketball with some young fellas…which is exactly how Updike introduces Harry Angstrom in Rabbit, Run. Perfect…

I could write all day about the master but I think that’s enough. Maybe. Enough.


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on July 31, 2012.

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