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02/08/2010

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Gerard Stocker

_Rabbit at Rest_ is the only one that really doesn't do it for me; my sense of disgust at the title character becomes more than just the odd tang at the edge of the pleasure I take in Updike's narration, it fatally taints the dish. Strangely, _Rabbit is Rich_ is the one that I'd choose if I had to reread just one. There are some scenes of comedy that mix the gross and the exquisite perfectly (Harry & Janice screwing on a bed covered in money,) and some scenes whose grinding agony capture exactly what the worst moments of life feel like (the scenes in which Harry & Thelma are brought together in unholy union.) To me the first two novels feel more like the sort of feverish, breathless stories in which young men might *imagine* themselves to be characters (it's hard for me to imagine Updike drawing these stories from personal experience.) Whereas _Rabbit is Rich_ feels like it contains exactly the sort of grimy situations in which real life trafficks, hence the specifity of time and place. I feel equally sure that when I was a young man I would reversed those polarities so feel free to take this as the bitter grumblings of middle age.

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