Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Reading the “Rabbits”

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Reading the “Rabbits”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I had promised myself I wouldn’t start my first post with “welcome to my new blog.” So here are those words, in my second. I picture that sentence being written a hundred, maybe a thousand, times every day, often by people in exactly my situation: I’m an outcast from old media.

For seven years I wrote a literary column for The Boston Globe. But now that my section of the paper has been shut down, here I am, jumping into the deep end of new media. Ready to see if I sink or swim or simply tread water. What I want to do here is what I did in my newspaper column, have a conversation about reading and writing. But the exciting thing here is that it can be an actual conversation. You jump in, too!

Have you read the Updike “Rabbit” books? I hadn’t and, after Updike died in January, I decided it was time I did. So I set myself to reading all four.

I have to confess, I didn’t love the first, “Rabbit, Run.” It is beautifully written, yes, but it seemed so, well, male. All those sports images, that casual male sexuality, that clueless aimlessness. With the second, too, “Rabbit Redux,” I felt I was slogging through a lit course assignment. I took a little break. But now I’m reading “Rabbit Is Rich” and that’s really grabbed me. In fact, I can’t wait to stop writing this and get back to it.

Still more male than I can easily relate to. But there’s that tenderness, those poignant descriptions of flawed human beings stumbling through the mundane dailiness of a flawed world. Updike seems to feel love not only for his characters, but for the millions of people in the real world whose lives are no more exciting or ennobled than those he’s writing about. He observes our daily lives in all their smallness and forgives the countless ways in which we fall short.

I’m sad to think that, after I finish this, what is ahead is “Rabbit at Rest.”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen

I just put "Rabbit Is Rich" on reserve at the library. I read the first two books many years ago, but I think I'll start with this one since it comes so highly recommended.


March 26, 2009 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Mim said...

Good luck with your new blog, Ellen. Do you know Updike's story, "The Persistence of Desire"? In it her reveals the power a woman has over his character.

March 31, 2009 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Ellen Steinbaum said...

No, I don't know that, but I'll look for it--thanks.

March 31, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

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