Tag Archives: 1960s

Rabbit Redux by John Updike


Published: 1971

Genre: fiction

Length: 353 pages

Setting: Brewer, a small Pennsylvanian town, July 1969 (the moon launch and landing was on the news)

Summary: Janice decides to leave Harry (aka Rabbit), mainly because he’s refused to have sex with her ever since their baby died. Harry is left taking care of their teenage son, Nelson, worrying about his mother, who has Parkinson’s disease, and working as a linotyper at a dying printer’s. Harry ends up taking in a run-away teen, Jill, who keeps her place in the house by sleeping with Harry. Harry’s also convinced to take in Skeeter, a civil rights conscious, young black man who skipped out on parole. Skeeter tries to educate Harry and Nelson on the difficulties living as a young black man. He also brings drugs into the house, which Jill cannot resist. There is a fire and Harry’s house burns down, killing Jill. Skeeter leaves ,and Janice wants to come back, but Harry isn’t sure he want her.

Final thoughts: I don’t see the attraction to the Rabbit books that many of the critics have. I will say, there were a lot of major events going on in July of 1969 – the moon landing, race riots, war, drugs, sex. With all that’s going on, Harry just kind of floats along. He’s presented with Jill who expects she needs to provide sex to live with Harry, so he has sex with her. Skeeter shows up, and Harry lets him stay until Skeeter burns the house down, even though Skeeter makes for many difficult situations.

Title comes from: The main character’s nickname is Rabbit and it’s the second book he’s featured in.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 96/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and a U in my A-Z Reading Challenge author challenge (20/26)

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