5.0 out of 5 stars Genious at Work
When I read this book, I thought of the faults of all human beings but how we all strive to be as good as we can be.
Harry is a very average, and is challenged by a lot of imperfections. Updike is a writer who can take average situations and make them surreal. Harry's angst about his son who is hooked on cocaine, the nature of the car business, and his dull and...
Published on May 1 2004 by J. McAndrew
3.0 out of 5 stars There's Always Something: The Angstrom Saga Continues
This is the final book in John Updike's Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom tetralogy. It is a good book with much to recommend, particularly the author's interesting fleshing-out of the character of Pru, Harry's daughter-in-law, but the Rabbit saga has clearly run out of steam. Besides spending much time rehashing the events of the earlier three books, the author also tries too hard...
Published on July 1 2002 by IRA Ross
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genious at Work,
This review is from: Rabbit At Rest (Hardcover)
When I read this book, I thought of the faults of all human beings but how we all strive to be as good as we can be.
Harry is a very average, and is challenged by a lot of imperfections. Updike is a writer who can take average situations and make them surreal. Harry's angst about his son who is hooked on cocaine, the nature of the car business, and his dull and boring marriage. While being angry at his son's addiction, Harry is addicted to food and the comfort commercial America promises him. As the Publisher's Weekly stated, its about the aborted American dream, or is Updike saying something deeper about American, about its meaningless materialism and about the things we value. This was the best of the Rabbit series. The writing about Harry's slow personal disintegration can be painful to read about, but even more painful, finding some parallels between my life and Harry's.
Reading Updike is like entering a colorful dream world which also urges the soul to consider some grim realities.
author of "Our Brown Eyed Boy"
p.s. Another Updike book I would recommend: "Roger's Version"
4.0 out of 5 stars R.I.P. Rabbit,
The last novel in John Updike's famous tetralogy finds that life is finally winding down for Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, as America heads into 1989 with a new President and an ever-evolving set of cultural icons and reference points. After three decades of making mistakes -- both personal and professional -- and working like a dog, Harry is ready for retirement from his position as sales manager of the Toyota dealership his wife Janice inherited from her parents, and he and Janice are dividing their time between their native Brewer, Pennsylvania, and their new condo in Florida.
Now fifty-five, Harry is besieged by the deleterious effects of aging and careless eating. Despite his concern for the burning pains in his chest and his excessive weight, he can't stop snacking on junk food, and the consequences are nasty: He has a mild heart attack while taking his granddaughter Judy sailing and, even after having an angioplasty, defies his doctor's advice to change his diet. The man has never been able to control his insatiability, and we, the readers, wait patiently for the crash and burn.
However, it is Harry's son Nelson who is going through the worst travails. Having been left in charge of the car dealership and, like his father, never one for self-discipline, he has developed a cocaine habit which he finances partly by siphoning profits from the business and which makes him a danger to his wife Pru and their two children not to mention the entire Angstrom family fortune. It is typical of Harry's impudence that his extramarital sexual activity, a subject of every Rabbit novel, this time extends to his daughter-in-law, while Nelson is trying to clean himself up at a treatment center.
Updike has always fashioned Harry and Janice as a married representation of all the combined good and bad of the national ethic, a sort of warped suburban American Gothic. At the end of the decade in which AIDS entered the public conscience and S & L scandals wracked the economy, there is something wistful about Harry's participation in a Fourth of July parade dressed as Uncle Sam, a symbol of post-Reagan America -- proud, overbearing, bloated, dying.
Harry as a character hasn't changed much since "Rabbit is Rich," but his immutability is part of his appeal. His peculiar thoughts on the practical aspects of mundane things -- a tour guide's chirpy attitude, the sexual implications of a waitress's hairstyle, the idiosyncrasies of television news anchors -- are always illuminating. The novel is a vehicle for Updike's flowing commentary, delivered in his inimitably witty prose, on pop culture as it existed in 1989, which is still recent enough for the memories to flicker in all their pastel-highlighted tackiness.
5.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying final installment of the Rabbit books,
This book is the final volume in the four-novel saga of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom, so you know it is going to tie up some loose ends, and it does, some neatly and some not-so-neatly. As a novel, it has the same high-quality writing as the other three, a credit to Updike's ability to maintain his creative energy over the years. As the final installment of the Rabbit cycle, it fits well into the overall story. Rabbit in his mid-fifties still struggles with the same character flaws he had as a young man, but he has also mellowed with age, making him if not more likeable at least more sympathetic. He does a lot of reflecting on the course of his life, and you get to understand how he feels about some to the things he did in previous novels, how he feels about his wife, children, and grandchildren, about living in Mt. Judge/Brewer all his life. This novel rounds out his character. He finally stops being so driven and is able to stand and absorb the good and the bad in his life. I absolutely recommend this book to those who have read any of the other Rabbit books. It also works as a stand-alone novel, but I think the story is so much richer in the context of the previous books.
3.0 out of 5 stars There's Always Something: The Angstrom Saga Continues,
This is the final book in John Updike's Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom tetralogy. It is a good book with much to recommend, particularly the author's interesting fleshing-out of the character of Pru, Harry's daughter-in-law, but the Rabbit saga has clearly run out of steam. Besides spending much time rehashing the events of the earlier three books, the author also tries too hard to cram in all of the current events of the late 1980's as a method of juxtaposing them with those of Harry's personal life.
Rabbit, now in his mid-fifties, is enduring a heart condition and the shennanigans of his troubled and irresponsible son, Nelson, who has assumed the management of his late grandfather's automobile dealership. This book concerns the losses one suffers in late middle age: the loss of youth, vigor and health, and with retirement, the loss of one's career together with the sense of usefulness to one's family and to one's self. All these factors trigger a quantum drop in poor Harry's self-esteem.
All that is left to Harry Angstrom now are his memories: his childhood home, the good times with his younger sister Mim, and especially the fame he had as a high school basketball jock. In various parts of the book Rabbit is shown reading a book on American history his wife Janice had given to him as a present. It is apt that Harry Angstrom, now a creature of the American past, should spend some of his spare time reading about it. The history of the American man is about the adventures of past heroes or near-heroes, like Harry Angstrom. Rabbit also is seen listening to the news on his car radio or discussing with others the current events of the day. This is the world that has sadly passed Rabbit by.
Rabbit, who has largely ignored his doctor's advice to follow a more healthful diet and to exercise more, attempts to redeem himself and to recapture some of his colorful past by shooting baskets with some street kids. The history of Harry Angstrom has now come full circle from the young Harry Angstrom of _Rabbit, Run._ Sometimes one fails to realize that he simply cannot go home again.
5.0 out of 5 stars They grow up and they never change,
In this book, the Angstroms are semi-retired and living in Florida. Rabbit has a heart condition and he's not doing anything to improve his health. His son Nelson has grown into a wreck of an adult, to which Harry and his wife deserve the lion share of the blame. The parents are so old and respectable now, you forget what they put their son through, until he reminds them. You really want to root for Harry to overcome all of the obstacles he faces, like you root for charming outlaws to outrun the posse. You sense that Zeus and the Gods are sitting on Mt. Olympus using Harry Angstrom as their plaything. Despite the fact that Updike is given literature status (this book won the Pulitzer), it's very easy to get into. This isn't long and arduous James Joyce prose, but an easy to follow modern day story that will make you think. The series is either a scathing indictment of latter 20th Century middle-class America that invents their own agony or it's just Updike's view of how normal people live. Whichever, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys serious fiction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflecting on Rabbit,
I think one has to read all four Rabbit novels in order to feel the full brunt of Updike's writing. I read the first three last month while backpacking around Europe, and it was a strangely religious experience to reflect upon Rabbit's quintessentially American life from a vantage point across the ocean. I returned home and devoured this book quickly, finding it even more profound than the first (maybe because as a twenty-something, this is the first book that takes place during an era that I can remember).
I can say little about Updike's writing that enhances what has already been said by so many: superlatives do not suffice. It is forceful, poetic and complete. I think his true genius in the Rabbit novels lies in the development of the characters themselves.
I can't decide if Rabbit is hopelessly unaware, or else just so completely aware that he is on a higher plane than the mess that surrounds him, soaring over it all like he used to soar over the basketball court. Rabbit is indeed flawed, but he ultimately redeems himself, if only by his hulking, larger-than-life presence, and is mostly forgiven.
4.0 out of 5 stars An Ending for "Mr. Death",
Rabbit feels death approaching him in one way or another in every episode of this tetralogy, and Rabbit at Rest finds a man who finally had carved out a position for himself, in an uncertain world, watch as his relevance gets stripped away, piece by piece, bringing him full circle. Rabbit, Run begins on the basketball court with the boys, where Harry attempts to again feel in a game he has once mastered what his actual life does not bring him, the ecstasy of being in control, on top, a winner. Of course even a few years after he was a youthful star, he senses he can never become that person again. Thirty years later he is still trying to become that person. Always his own worst enemy, his sexual preoccupations lead him into his worst nightmares, and his consumption of junk food doesn't help either. It's as if his bitterness towards the world, towards God perhaps, for letting him peak so early, leads him to the conclusion that the best he can do is make himself feel better, no matter what the cost. What makes this all so fascinating is that, while seemingly a selfish monster, Harry is, after all, someone we like and relate to; a pretty nice, even-tempered, intelligent guy. Who just happens to actively hate his own son, sleep with the wives of the people closest to him, and slowly poison the life from himself. How human.
5.0 out of 5 stars Rabbit At Rest,
Whilst reading the corresponding reviews earlier for this novel I couln't help being envious that our American cousins get the likes of this genius book to study at school. For those who aren't familiar with Updike's work the rabbit series is a fine place to start. The four books in the series are not only eminently readable but also serve as a keen snapshot of 20th centuary American life. The protagonist 'Rabbit' although a very 'male' character is someone who anybody with a heart beating in their chest could identify with. At times fustratingly small-minded at others warm and poetic Rabbit stumbles through the story as we do through life, drawing sympathy from the reader. So that by this the fourth novel his worries are also our concerns and his victories fill us with jubilation. As other reviewers have mentioned, don't dive straight into this book on the back of it's award winning status. Take the time to discover the books in chronological order and welcome the final book as you would your dearest brother.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting End to a Fine Series,
While reading "Rabbit at Rest" I repeatedly tried to imagine how this book would read had I not read its predecessors beforehand. Frankly, I don't think anyone can do this novel justice without reading the previous three novels first. Having done so, practically every sentence resonates with meaning as it recalls something from the first three books in the series. Without "Rabbit, Run", "Rabbit Redux" and "Rabbit is Rich" in your consciousness, "Rabbit at Rest" is little more than the story of a fat man dying. It's not the best of the four but it is the richest and fullest. This is not a book to pull off the shelf and dive into unprepared. Do yourself a favor, take a few weeks to devour the series one after another. By the time you get to this one, you'll want to search Updike out to convince him that Janice, Nelson and Pru are enough to sustain one more novel.
4.0 out of 5 stars Rabbit at Rest, as well as the series,
By A Customer
Very memorable novel, written with grace by Mr. Updike, the man with a million ideas. Updike really knows how to sew together a novel that one can relate to. He discusses common experiences, common relationships, those that all of us have at least experienced once. Rabbit is a character who I grew to enjoy and hate at the same time. His story is one of hopelessness and pessimism and a flawed moral character, and he senses that the end is near, but does not take sincere steps to remedy the situation. He feels the awful dread that accompanies chronic disease, and it is interesting how he copes with it. Truthfully, I think Updike could have spent less time on the trivial; pages and pages are used to describe the most mundane topics, like television commercials. Overall, I enjoyed the novel and continue to reflect upon its content and message, even weeks after finishing it. For some reason I sort of miss Rabbit.
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Rabbit at Rest Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (School & Library Binding - Aug. 1996)
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