Reading the “Rabbits”
Thursday, March 26, 2009
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.”