Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike, Winner of The Pulitzer Prize for Literature and National Book Award in 1982 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulitzer_Prize_for_Fiction
10 out of 10
It is an incredible catharsis, an immense joy to read a book like Rabbit Is Rich, although if we are trying to get into the mood of this serious, but oh so amusing magnum opus, we could get cheeky and say that the magnitude of the fun was to be expected, given that this is the third installment in the trilogy that has started so magnificently with Rabbit, Run http://realini.blogspot.com/2022/10/rabbit-run-by-john-updike-may-make-you.html which if I am not mistaken, is included among The All-TIME 100 Best Novels, and hey, if it is not there, then it damn well should be…
One other important fact about this novel and all the others in the tetralogy – in other words, I should edit the above, where it says trilogy, but I am not bothered, nobody really reads this anyway – is the fact that it is such an easy read, contrary to Kafka or Beckett…this brings to mind another amusing opus, To The Hermitage by Malcolm Bradbury http://realini.blogspot.com/2022/09/to-hermitage-by-malcolm-bradbury-author.html where the author speaks of the advantage that the fictional, literary world has over the ‘real’ one – unless we are talking about the mentioned Kafka and Beckett the blague would be – in the created universe personages are cleverer, more interesting, wiser, the events we witness are more vibrant, compelling and we can get into this realm without leaving the house, or indeed, the bed…
Rabbit aka Harry Angstrom has gone through some transformations that we are familiar with – if we have reached middle age – and some that we have not had in our own experience, Alhamdulillah, such as the death of his infant daughter – drowned because of the condition her mother, Janice, was in at the time, an almost permanent intoxication, due in part at the time to the departing of her philandering, confused husband – then the burning of Jil, the young woman with whom our protagonist was nesting and fucking – incidentally, we should use this type of language here, for the book has another massive merit, that it digs into sexuality, and I mean it does impart with the audience the void of anal sex, void not in that it is not orgasmic, but that when Harry enters that area, he feels a void – and much, much more, swinging in the Caribbean, and a permanent conflict with his son
On the last part, I do not have a son, but somehow manage to antagonize for a lot of the time my daughter, but in this real world case, it is my fault, while in Rabbit Is Rich, Nelson does seem to be annoying and incapable of…well, live his life, he has had a strange connection with Maggie (was that her name, by the time of this third part, she is mentioned rarely) which means they fucked, but just as she was a best friend for Ruth, who will marry Nelson some time in the middle of this novel, and Maggie is at the same time getting close and then sexually intimate with the much older Charlie Stavros, who has always had a heart murmur and an affair with Janice, when the latter moved out and left Rabbit.
This looks like a soap opera, now that I try and summarize it – I was going to say for you, but since ‘you’ are not a thing, you probably do not exist at this point in the text, in the sense of a reader that has reached this point…I was whining about not having anyone to share these fabulous thoughts have earlier, but then at this stage, there is clearly nobody left – but then the other view would be that it is such a genuine reflection of things as they have been, at the time after the Flower Power movement
Harry Angstrom is rich now, and he has a variety of new events and experiences in his life, including a swap on a Caribbean island, where he becomes a swinger with his friends and has anal sex for the first time, indeed, the openness over sexual encounters has been one of the strong points of the Trilogy, from the first part, through Rabbit Redux http://realini.blogspot.com/2022/10/one-of-realinis-best-reads-rabbit-redux.html readers have been offered a panoramic view into American ways, during and after the Flower Power movement, and the characters have a web of connections, Charlie Stavros with Janice, then with Nelson’s friend, the latter is having coitus with Nelson, who will marry soon.
There is a conflict between generations, Nelson feels bad about his father, blaming him for the past, when Jil was burned together with their house, the attitude Rabbit had towards his mother, and almost everything else the parent has done and is doing now, they clash over the cars that are sold, the fact that Nelson takes in a…snowmobile as a trade in, which would eventually be sold by Stavros, the latter loses his job, because Janice and her mother decide to give Nellie an opportunity, albeit Charlie is a key employee and he has to be brought back eventually, when Harry is on vacation in the Caribbean…
Rabbit is convinced that a girl that visits the dealership with a friend must be his daughter, the one conceived years back, when he left home for a few months to live with Ruth, and drives to the farm to see more, trying to find the truth and maybe support the girl, help with her education, if she wants to go to university – he is still very upset because his only son has decided to abandon his higher studies and come live with the family, pushing Stavros out to start on the dealership lot, where father and son do not see eye to eye, to say the least, in fact it looks at times as if they dislike each other intensely.
However, Harry insists that he wants his son to be happy, and does not see his marriage as one that will ensure that, and neither will giving up higher education help with anything, on the contrary, and we can defiantly say that the young man is confused, does not seem to be convinced that marrying will be a dream, he has had ‘Carnal Knowledge of his future wife’s best friend, and it seems as if marital vows would be exchanged just because a child is on the way – if that is not stopped by the pregnant woman’s drinking and other habits – she does take to menthe liquor – as Rabbit observes…overall, we have the picture of a group of people that appear representative of the American individual, the ones that would give us a number of the members of the cult of Trump (idiots in my view, with the needed caveats that some will just want the lower taxes, and hate some of the extremists on the other side, but still, to vote for a monster is quite ghastly, and the least they could do is say that he is a lesser calamity, and not worship him) and it was a great fun to read this winner of the Pulitzer and then start Rabbit At Rest