Saturday, December 13, 2014

John Updike, Rabbit Run

On this front, Deresiewicz was wrong. What a tawdry waste of talent this book is. The style is perfect - the minute perceptiveness and uncanny prose is as remarkable as his short stories - but there is no substance in it. I spent the entire 250 pages hoping that Rabbit Angstrom would just fall down a well, and take his entire town's dreary, declining existence with him. It's hard to imagine how this bleak collection of frustrated, dimwitted sadsacks managed to animate three subsequent novels.


Withywindle said...

Have I mentioned that I finished George de Maurier's Trilby with a rage against the characters so great that I hoped that all their grandchildren would perish in the Great War?

But I suppose I should at least look at Updike's stories, since you and D both recommend them.

Miss Self-Important said...

It's odd, because abstractly, I can understand why a writer would want to depict the less spectacular forms of human venality - chronic self-absorption, aimlessness, cowardice, nostalgia, etc. These are real and ubiquitous qualities, and you'd think that everyone in 20th century America could appreciate their centrality. But the actual result is insufferable. What can you think of someone who can be good at nothing but high school basketball and who is doomed to eat away at himself and everyone around him for all the years of his life that come after high school? Too damn bad for him.

Ari said...

I know D framed his essay around this, but in case you haven't read it, it's worth it:

Withywindle said...

It's always difficult to get the reader interested in uninteresting and/or repulsive people ... which is why I eschew memoir.

Miss Self-Important said...

Ari: Yes, these are sad truths. D is right that Updike's problem isn't phallocracy per se, but DFW doesn't say it is; it's solipsism. And even D admits this when he says that Updike thought America had peaked and was perfect synchronicity with Updike's own personal peak and decline. Convenient. My country's prospects always perfectly mirror my own.

Withywindle: Ha!