Finished reading this today. It's the story of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a middle class man living in a small Pennsylvania town in the late 1950s (published in 1960). Rabbit feels trapped in his life with a pregnant wife who drinks, and a young son to support, living in a cheap apartment. On impulse, Rabbit leaves his life and runs - first to West Virgina and then back to his home town. He moves in with Ruth - a sometimes prostitute - and goes back to his wife when she has their second child. Tragedy ensues and Rabbit ends up running again. This was a very realistic look at life during the 50s. It's a very American point of view. Updike's prose is eloquent but his sentences are sometimes long and seem to run together - he also uses a lot of metaphors and is very descriptive. This is the first of 4 novels about Rabbit written at 10-year intervals. This one ended kind of abruptly and it made me want to find out what happens to Rabbit in the ensuing years. I have a copy of Rabbit Redux which I will probably read soon. Overall, I would recommend this novel but it is definitely a downer look at life. It definitely does not describe the idealistic small-town American life in the 1950's as portrayed in "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" - this book shows a much more realistic view of it.
Sometimes you read a book and you think "well, the writing is fine, but I do not know why people think so much about this book" when you come to a section which grabs you up and shakes you and you realize why. This is one of those books.
Rabbit, Run is a finely textured, poetic story about a man trapped in his life. Updike's style is beautiful and the book is a joy to read. Rabbit's story is absorbing and crushing in its emotional weight. This is wonderful, personal American literature.
A Perfect Set-up for the Rest of the Rabbit Series, October 13, 2005
Reviewer: T. A. Gray "TAG" (New York, NY)
"Rabbit, Run" is a story about a young man who is trapped within a flawed, though privileged life. He has a wife and child, parents and in-laws, a job and a sports legacy, though none of these elements are truly perfect and fulfilling for him. But when is life perfect and flawless?
Rather than accepting life's imperfections and trying to work them out and improve them, he decides to physically and mentally run away from hardships and challenges time and time again, constantly seeking out a more meaningful life he thinks he can find. In reality, he doesn't have a clue where satisfaction and fulfillment lie and ends up disappointing everyone who once loved him.
The book is funny, sad, and amazingly written in Updike's unique prose.