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Rabbit at Rest [Kindle Edition]

John Updike
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Howells Medal, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired a Florida condo, a second grandchild, and a troubled, overworked heart. His son, Nelson, is behaving erratically; his daughter-in-law, Pru, is sending him mixed signals; and his wife, Janice, decides in midlife to return to the world of work. As, through the year of 1989, Reagan’s debt-ridden, AIDS-plagued America yields to that of the first George Bush, Rabbit explores the bleak terrain of late middle age, looking for reasons to live and opportunities to make peace with a remorselessly accumulating past.

Editorial Reviews Review

It's 1989, and Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom feels anything but restful. In fact he's frozen, incapacitated by his fear of death--and in the final year of the Reagan era, he's right to be afraid. His 55-year-old body, swollen with beer and munchies and racked with chest pains, wears its bulk "like a set of blankets the decades have brought one by one." He suspects that his son Nelson, who's recently taken over the family car dealership, is embezzling money to support a cocaine habit.

Indeed, from Rabbit's vantage point--which alternates between a winter condo in Florida and the ancestral digs in Pennsylvania, not to mention a detour to an intensive care unit--decay is overtaking the entire world. The budget deficit is destroying America, his accountant is dying of AIDS, and a terrorist bomb has just destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 above Lockerbie, Scotland. This last incident, with its rapid transit from life to death, hits Rabbit particularly hard:

Imagine sitting there in your seat being lulled by the hum of the big Rolls-Royce engines and the stewardesses bring the clinking drinks caddy... and then with a roar and giant ripping noise and scattered screams this whole cozy world dropping away and nothing under you but black space and your chest squeezed by the terrible unbreathable cold, that cold you can scarcely believe is there but that you sometimes actually feel still packed into the suitcases, stored in the unpressurized hold, when you unpack your clothes, the dirty underwear and beach towels with the merciless chill of death from outer space still in them.
Marching through the decades, John Updike's first three Rabbit novels--Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), and Rabbit Is Rich (1981)--dissect middle-class America in all its dysfunctional glory. Rabbit at Rest (1990), the final installment and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, continues this brilliant dissection. Yet it also develops Rabbit's character more fully as he grapples with an uncertain future and the consequences of his past. At one point, for example, he's taken his granddaughter Judy for a sailing expedition when his first heart attack strikes. Rabbit gamely navigates the tiny craft to shore--and then, lying on the beach, feels a paradoxical relief at having both saved his beloved Judy and meeting his own death. (He doesn't, not yet.) Meanwhile, this all-American dad feels responsible for his son's full-blown drug addiction but incapable of helping him. (Ironically, it's Rabbit's wife Janice, the "poor dumb mutt," who marches Nelson into rehab.)

His misplaced sense of responsibility--plus his crude sexual urges and racial slurs--can make Rabbit seems less than lovable. Still, there's something utterly heroic about his character. When the end comes, after all, it's the Angstrom family that refuses to accept the reality of Rabbit's mortality. Only Updike's irreplaceable mouthpiece rises to the occasion, delivering a stoical, one-word valediction: "Enough." --Rob McDonald

From Publishers Weekly

Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, morbidly depressed, overweight and living with wife Janice in a Florida retirement community, recovers from a heart attack and is led astray by his libido one last time. "Updike is razor-sharp and mordantly funny," said PW. "If this novel is in some respects an elegy to Rabbit's bewildered existence, it is also a poignant, humorous, instructive guidebook to the aborted American dream." The book took a Pulitzer Prize.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1676 KB
  • Print Length: 609 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0449911942
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (August 26, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,833 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love What You Do For Me, Rabbit Angstrom May 31, 2005
Having become enamored with Rabbit Angstrom through this magnificent tetralogy, I was sad to see the end finally come. Rabbit with his highly unlovable ways, his crude sexuality, his ethnic slurs, his disdain for the "dumb mutt" he married, all would normally tend to turn someone off, and yet Updike has made this anti-hero an endearing and enduring creation. Rabbit is the 20th century man in all his dysfunctional glory, who in spite of his many shortcomings, is like an old friend we are immensely fond of and want to keep up with.

Though all the books are well-written, it is in this fourth and final installment that Rabbit and Updike both reach their peak and mesmerize the reader. Rabbit at 55 is feeling the pains of a lifetime of beer-drinking and cholesterol-laden foods. While on an outing with his granddaughter, he suffers his first heart attack and thus begins his long trip into the valley of death and the nostalgic trip down memory lane that so often precedes that.

Looking back on his life, he decides it must be a religious tie that kept him with Janice as he can think of no other reason. Rabbit and Janice are now leading "the good life" and while cocaine-addicted son Nelson runs Springer Motors, the senior Angstroms spend six months of the year in sunny Florida where Rabbit golfs and Janice plays tennis and attends a women's group regularly. It is Janice that has changed most, making the best of her life with Rabbit while enjoying the carefree existence of a snowbird. It is surprising to Rabbit when he discovers that, though outwardly together, to herself Janice will always be the woman who drowned her own daughter.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life catches up with him May 18, 2005
Rabbit at Rest is a wonderful book, what more can I say?

During the reading of it, I continually wanted to pass judgment against Rabbit and characterize him as a "bad" person, but I couldn't. Rabbit at 55 years old isn't "bad" - he is a product of 55 years of life and sadly, he cannot seem to figure out how to change himself and get on a smoother road to peace & happiness, even though he wants to, he should, and knows he should.

Rabbit is a man stuck in routine. He talks down to Nelson, obsesses about infidelity, disregards his health, and sees Janice as a "dumb mutt" because he always has and doesn't know how to live his life any other way.

This book makes you think about how many of us there are who just can't figure out how to break out of our routines, even when those routines are unhealthy and killing us. We're all scared of change, just like Rabbit.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They grow up and they never change January 30, 2002
In this book, the Angstroms are semi-retired and living in Florida. Rabbit has a heart condition and he's not doing anything to improve his health. His son Nelson has grown into a wreck of an adult, to which Harry and his wife deserve the lion share of the blame. The parents are so old and respectable now, you forget what they put their son through, until he reminds them. You really want to root for Harry to overcome all of the obstacles he faces, like you root for charming outlaws to outrun the posse. You sense that Zeus and the Gods are sitting on Mt. Olympus using Harry Angstrom as their plaything. Despite the fact that Updike is given literature status (this book won the Pulitzer), it's very easy to get into. This isn't long and arduous James Joyce prose, but an easy to follow modern day story that will make you think. The series is either a scathing indictment of latter 20th Century middle-class America that invents their own agony or it's just Updike's view of how normal people live. Whichever, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys serious fiction.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biting Social Commentary February 1, 2000
With the exception of Updike's golf stories, the "Rabbit" series, and his short stories, I have found his other novels a bit esoteric, abstract, and oblique. In fact, I remember starting 2-3 of these books, but I never finished any of them. But the Harry Angstrom series is a direct wallop to the collective jaw of the American reader
With the fourth installment of the "Rabbit" series Updike proves that he is among the greatest American writers (along with Tom Wolfe, for example) producing fiction that oozes with sarcasm.
In "Rabbit At Rest" Updike uses the sometimes sad life of cad Harry Angstrom as a metaphor for the aimless, immature, and irresponsible segment of Americans that refuses to grow up.
Most of us would probably hate to admit it, but there is a little bit of Rabbit Angstrom in all of us.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Accomplishment August 4, 2009
I read the four Rabbit novels consecutively. It is difficult to write a review of Rabbit At Rest without looking back at the series. The four novels are a significant accomplishment. Rather than say I enjoyed the novels, I prefer to say I admire them. Four books written ten years apart follow the life of an average man from early adulthood through later life. Each book starts a decade later and explains what has occurred since the last book. Updike's age approximated Rabbit's as he wrote each book and we actually live Rabbit's life with him. I give five stars to the 4 novels which as I've mentioned in another review is greater than the sum of its parts.

Rabbit is Rich is the closing chapter and is really about Harry Rabbit Angstrom coming to terms with his mortality and reflecting on his life. His son has run the car dealership into the ground with his drug habit, his wife is blind to the son's issues and feels responsible because of what they'd put him through. Rabbit was once so powerful and virile and is now living in Florida half the year, golfing each day and living with the restrictions of a bad heart. He is still very self centered but it's hard not to cheer for him. As with all the novels, our access to Rabbit's thought are unrestricted and we get the good and the bad in a seemingly unfiltered form.

I thought the last hundred pages were outstanding and really tied the series together well as Rabbit runs from responsibility in a scene reliving the opening sequences of Rabbit Run.

I found Rabbit at Rest and Rabbit is Rich to be the best two books of the series as Updike matured with his character.

This is a tremendous literary accomplishment and I highly recommend reading all four books consecutively.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the 4 "Rabbit" books
I savored every sentence and it is one of those books that you never want to end. Read it slow , Updike is a genius with describing the everyday, common things that we all share... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rob Janssen
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
One of the best reads recently purchased. To be highly recommended.
Have already referred this book to others with similar reading interests.
Published 5 months ago by Tony Ashford
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a good final installment.
"Rabbit" is an interesting character. Unlike most people, I actually liked the earlier 2 books better. The last two and this one in particular seem "crafted". Read more
Published 7 months ago by KB MD
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 Point Man
Earlier this year I read Rabbit, Run and it left me with a feeling of disappointment and a kind of emptiness. Read more
Published 13 months ago by BrokenArrow
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
. .. . Especially for the baby boomer generation it hits home so many ways and Updike's character development and descriptions are fantastic
Published 15 months ago by Stuart Ross
1.0 out of 5 stars Pornography?
Why this series..."Rabbit" considered cerebral literature is a mystery to me. The "F" word embellishes almost every page and no character is immune from... Read more
Published 15 months ago by slick
4.0 out of 5 stars Series Finale
Rabbit at Rest is the fourth and final installment of the tetralogy written by John Updike, featuring as its protagonist, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Steven M. Anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars Respect please
Having read and reread all four "Rabbit" books until they fell apart, I came here to check out the general purview of these works. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Bob27044
5.0 out of 5 stars 1991 Pulitzer Prize winner
John Updike wrote three books about this character. Two of them won the prize. It's no coincidence, he is an excellent story teller, and the characters are worth knowing. Read more
Published 19 months ago by J. Valadez
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
My new favorite author must read. He is so good at developing his character's you feel like part of the family when finished.
Published 19 months ago by Angie C. Pace
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More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He was the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. John Updike died on January 27, 2009, at the age of 76.

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