Rabbit at Rest
Author: John Updike
Release Date: 1990
It was an up and down journey through the four main Rabbit books, which feels all the more fitting upon the conclusion of Rabbit at Rest. Through thirty years with the Angstrom clan, it seems more realistic that many of the characters did despicable things throughout the books but are either redeemed or approved in the eyes of their families and the readers at the end.
When we first met Rabbit in 1960, he was a few years removed from being a high school basketball star, with a young wife Janice and son Nelly, and through deaths in the family to estranged love affairs, changes in occupation and social status, those three remain the main characters until 1990 when this book takes place. Almost all of the characters that have been featured throughout the series are mentioned, spoken to or have active involvements in this book, including Mim, Charlie Stavros, Skeeter, Ruth, and many more.
Although I strongly disliked Rabbit Redux, I appreciate it more after reading this book just because it felt more realistic when remembered as a wacky time period for the characters involved than it did while actually reading it. The much better Rabbit, Run is likewise enhanced by reading this volume, as this book makes several call backs to it as characters turn into their parents and both books utilizing a similar setting and event to bookend the series. Finally, the already excellent Rabbit is Rich is the closest plot wise to this book as the events at the end directly set up the situation the characters find themselves to in to start this book.
Here Rabbit and Janice have moved to Florida for half the year, while Nelson runs the car dealership. Some of the character problems stem right out of 1980’s after school specials, but the since the character’s point of view we most get are from the 1960’s it’s more fitting that their first conclusions for everything that is happening are the things they would see on tv. Rabbit’s continued evaluations of things he sees in the news and reads about the American Revolution in this book are some of the best writing in the whole series by Updike. Only one more novella in the series, and the way these books have been trending I am eager to start it.