Rabbit Redux is the second volume of what would become John Updike’s four-book series about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. Although Redux is peppered with allusions to Rabbit, Run, readers who haven’t read that will feel slightly out of place.
The novel is set in 1969 in Brewer, a small Pennsylvania city whose neon outskirts conceal a decaying core left by the middle class folks like the Angstroms fleeing to the suburbs.
Harry takes the bus (“It stinks of Negroes.”) to work downtown. Janice drives the car to her job so she can meet her lover conveniently.
Janice moves in with her boyfriend.
Invited to a seedy bar by a black man with whom he works, Harry agrees to give a bed to a runaway, who says she’s 18 and drug free.
He brings Jill home; soon she and Harry’s son, 13-year-old son Nelson, are pals and Jill’s sharing Harry’s bed.
Then Jill brings home a black drug pusher wanted by police and things get complicated.
Reading Updike is like visiting Pompeii today: You see ordinary people going about ordinary lives captured as their world blew up and caught them unaware.
Rabbit Redux would be worth reading just for its glimpse into American culture circa 1969.
Rabbit Redux by John Updike
Knopf, ©1971 [my copy, 1981] p. 407
1971 bestseller #10. My grade: B+
© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni