Rabbit Redux

Rabbit Redux



The Pequod Review:

Rabbit Redux, the second book in John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom series, is one of his most intense and observant novels. In it, Harry navigates the late 1960s, and its counterculture, race riots, drugs, and wars — “all the oppressive, distressing, overstimulating developments of the most dissentious American decade since the Civil War.” The foundations of both American society and the Angstrom family are under threat throughout the book; “America and Harry suffered, marveled, listened, and endured. Not without cost, of course.”

Meanwhile, Updike’s poetic observations have never been better:

There was a time — the year after leaving, even five years after when this homely street, with its old-fashioned high crown, its sidewalk blocks tugged up and down by maple roots, its retaining walls of sandstone and railings of painted iron and two-family brick-front houses whose siding imitates gray rocks, excited Rabbit with the magic of his own existence. These mundane surfaces had given witness to his life; this cup had held his blood; here the universe had centered, each downtwirling maple seed of more account than galaxies. No more. Jackson Road seems an ordinary street anywhere. Millions of such American streets hold millions of lives, and let them sift through, and neither notice nor mourn, and fall into decay, and do not even mourn their own passing but instead grimace at the wrecking ball with the same gaunt facades that have outweathered all their winters. However steadily Mom communes with these maples—the branches’ misty snake-shapes as inflexibly fixed in these two windows as the leading of stained glass—they will not hold back her fate by the space of a breath; nor, if they are cut down tomorrow to widen Jackson Road at last, will her staring, that planted them within herself, halt their vanishing. And the wash of new light will extinguish even her memory of them. Time is our element, not a mistaken invader. How stupid, it has taken him thirty-six years to begin to believe that.

Highly recommended.