It is said that books are your best friends. If “Rabbit, Run” is my best friend, I need no enemies.
Don’t get me wrong. Updike was a fantastic writer. His descriptions are vivid and detail oriented, if you excuse the slight self-indulgent pretentiousness – but all writers have to be self-indulgent to translate personal experience into a shared event, and he takes a simple story of human misery (and by misery, I mean the I-want-to-tear-my-hair-out-and-howl-to-high-heavens misery) and weaves into it, verbose but engaging and detailed descriptions of things, places, feelings, sex (yes, there is a sex-fixation) and what not, so that the misery is amplified many times over, and the book becomes ripe enough to win one of those literature prizes that are given to books that are infinitely depressing, or deprave, or both. Thankfully, this book is not as deprave as it is depressing.
[Spoiler Alert] In a nutshell, the story is about chronically befuddled Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, who leaves his alcoholic wife who is pregnant with their second child, drives southwards, and then for some reason returns to his home town halfway, falls in love and moves in with a hooker, plays golf with a pastor, leaves her to get back to his wife who has delivered their daughter, flirts with the pastor’s wife, leaves the wife again when she refuses to have sex with him a week after she has delivered, goes back to the hooker’s house, and she is away, so comes back to the wife, who meanwhile has accidentally drowned the baby in drunken stupor (what happened to all the policemen in Brewer, PA?), and he leaves the wife at the baby’s funeral, and comes back to the hooker who is now pregnant with his child (is this why he is called “Rabbit” – because he breeds like one?), and in the last paragraph leaves her too.
Seriously. That’s the story. If you don’t believe me, read the book. I dare you.
Book: Rabbit, Run
Author: John Updike
Year of Publication: 1960