Here’s yet another case of You Got an English Degree…How? I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I got through college and a master’s degree without reading Updike. (In my defense, this time is not as bad as when I got called out in a graduate class for never having read Jane Eyre…which I promptly read and enjoyed. That was several years ago.) Rabbit, Run and the rest of the Rabbit Angstrom series have been on my radar since, say, 2000, and I even own one of his books, but this is the first time I’ve ever read him.
Not far into Rabbit, Run, I became an instant fan.
I think I was turned off by the basketball on every cover of every Rabbit book ever. I thought I was in for a sports novel (which also might explain why I can’t get through Underworld). Fifteen minutes into the audiobook, I realized that Rabbit, Run is not, in fact, a sports novel, but a mannish family novel with some interesting similarities to DeLillo. And better yet, I haven’t ruined Updike for myself like I have DeLillo by studying him. Oh, yeah.
Rabbit, Run is about Harry Angstrom, who was, yes, a high school basketball star. But that’s pretty much where the sports end. Of course, that experience has in a lot of ways shaped his life, but that’s only part of the story. Harry is married to a woman named June and has one young kid and another on the way. He’s unhappy in his marriage for several reasons and runs off…for a couple months. One day, instead of picking up his car and then his kid, he takes the car and heads south. Several hours later, he heads back to town, finds his old basketball coach, Marty Tothero, and asks his advice. He ends up on a double date with Tothero, his girlfriend, and another girl named Ruth. Harry moves in with Ruth for a couple months before returning home when his baby is born. Of course, there are consequences.
I was so surprised by how good this novel is and how much I enjoyed it. I had no idea what I was in for, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I’m having a hard time not immediately reaching for Rabbit Redux. Seriously, y’all. If you haven’t read Updike, run to your local library or bookstore. And if you like our old friend DeLillo, you’ll like Updike, possibly even more.
Featured image credit: Jason Yung