"Ex-basketball player Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom has acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo and a second grandchild. His son, Nelson, is behaving erratically and his wife, Janice, decides in mid-life to become a working girl. As, through the winter, spring and summer of 1989, Reagan's debt-ridden, AIDS-plagued America yields to that of George Bush, Rabbit explores the bleak terrain of late middle age, looking for reasons to live."
That said, it was still excellent. I haven't been huge into series in the past, but this was definitely a series that I am sad to see end. Rabbit was a rich character and it was really interesting to follow his life for 40 years, in 10 year increments.
Janice started to redeem herself in my mind in this book, but kind of threw it all away in the latter part of the book. I didn't like her in Redux because she put herself before the welfare of her son, and she was just really, really dumb in Rich. She was still far too indulgent of Nelson and his immaturity, but she actually stood up to him, which he needed.
As always, Updike was one of the masters of prose writing. Some of these passages are amazingly brilliant and detailed. Here's an example:
Up, up; the air thins, the barometer registers, the timer begins to tick as the plane snugly bores through the darkness and the pilot chats on the radio while the cockpit lights burn and wink around him and the passengers nod over their drinks in their slots of pastel plastic. This image, like a seed at last breaking its shell in moist soil, awakens in Harry the realization that even now as he lies here in this antiseptic white fog tangled in tubes and ties of blood and marriage he is just like the people he felt so sorry for, falling from the burst-open airplane: he too is falling, helplessly falling, toward death. The fate awaiting him behind this veil of medical attention is as absolute as that which greeted those bodies fallen smack upon the boggy Scottish earth like garbage bags full of water.
I'm still failing to see where this quartet is a "valentine to (Updike's) country" as Joyce Carol Oates said, but I think this is a book, if only for the prose alone, belongs in the American canon of great books.
My rating: 8/10
While this is all very wrong and unpleasant, there is a kind of internal unity and artistic integrity to it, and in places he seems almost as sincere as he did back at the beginning of the series in Rabbit, Run. Unfortunately, as the series progresses, it becomes increasingly about Rabbit's son Nelson, who is an even less sympathetic character and not nearly as interesting. I spent most of this book just waiting for Rabbit to die. But, if you've made it this far, all the way through Rabbit Redux and Rabbit is Rich, you may as well read this and finish the series off, as this is better than those were (but still not as good as the first).
Rabbit, Run and Rabbit at Rest are the strongest and most compelling in the series -- too bad they bookend the lesser-quality Rabbit Redux and Rabbit is Rich books.
I am still convinced that John Updike is one of the best out there.
Updike achives the perfect combination between poetic,delicate symbols and authentic realism writing, a talent that grew bigger with experience and time.
Rabbit tries to deal with the big questions of life and death in his uninitiated ways ,now (age 55) more profoundly and impressive than ever.
Flaubert would have been proud of this book.
a pure masterpiece of style,depths and enjoyment,that shows more truth about the rural,middle-class America than most other American fiction,and with much better quality.
Rabbit at Rest finds Angstrom roughly ten years later, semi-retired and spending winters in Florida with his wife Janice while Nelson runs the family dealership.
The time frame is the late 80s, George Bush, the elder, is President, and cocaine is the drug of choice. Most of the action centers upon Rabbit’s dysfunctional relationship with his son and the resulting conflict which necessarily develops between he, his wife and daughter-in-law as the prodigal son systematically destroys the family legacy. Rabbit’s declining health and his relationship with his grandchildren are also story lines.
While much of the writing is entertaining and very well done, it must be noted that at times, Updike seems to fly off on wild screeds of florid, almost unintelligible prose that leave the reader simply rolling his eyes. In fact, I found this annoying trait to be far more common in this installment than in the previous three. I lost count of the number of ways Updike describes the smells and tastes of female body parts in various states of arousal.
Nevertheless, the characters contained in the story are well presented and fleshed out beautifully, even some of the more peripheral players. All in all, this is a fascinating look at life during the late 80s, from the perspective of a middle class, Pennsylvania family, though Rabbit and his circumstances can hardly be viewed as representative. In fact, each of the four installments acts as an in-depth look at American society, and taken as whole give an accurate depiction of American life and societal mores from the late 50s through 1990. As such, the series is quite instructive, immensely entertaining and for someone of my generation, quite reflective.
At any rate, recently I've been reading authors whom I've had these nebulous, prejudicial attitudes about--often contemporary or almost contemporary writers, like Philip Roth and Saul Bellow (I discovered I don't care for Bellow, whom I find turgid, and can only take a few of Roth's books, because of his sexual o0bsessions). And then I came to this one Rabbit at Rest, which I thought superlative.