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0622 | Rabbit is Rich | John Updike

0622 | Rabbit is Rich | John Updike post image

Context: Mrs Arukiyomi’s grandfather (centre) passed away while I listened to this. Private Eye readers will be glad to hear that he was 94.

More of the same from Updike with two exceptions: less happens and there’s more graphic sex. Quite why this novel, of the three Rabbit novels so far, won the most awards including the Pulitzer is beyond me.

My conclusions that Rabbit and his ilk are a complete waste of human space were confirmed by this. How many people are there out there whose lives are of no benefit to anyone except themselves and to the detriment of everyone around them?

No one in this novel is capable of loving anyone around them or even aware that they lack the ability. Instead, they carry on with facade and distortion as if life really is all about their petty concerns.

Rabbit has grown fat, in more ways than one, on the proceeds of the Toyota showroom inherited from his now deceased father-in-law. He is estranged from his son, emotionally estranged from his wife, and still beset by fantasies of the sexual grass being greener.

Updike must have thought all women were simply objects. He describes all of them in terms of their bodily appearance and, as far as I can tell from these three novels, created Rabbit to somehow legitimise lust. Even when he does create a character who supposedly loves Rabbit, his expression of that is for her to take him away during a vacation swingers night and have him perform anal sex. How facile do you have to be for this to be what you consider an expression of love?

So, in conclusion, having read the first three books, while Updike can write great prose, he turned his skill to rendering lives that were entirely unworthy of our focus. Either there’s some genius irony there and that’s exactly the point, or these three books are equally unworthy. I think it actually may be both.

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