Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rabbit at Rest


I finished this novel last night around the time I usually go to sleep and I was pondering whether I should write my review then and there, of if I should wait until those sleepy cobwebs would've vanished. I chose the latter and here I am trying to gather my thoughts while Amélie is trying to get my attention and it seems it's going to be a very dreary Sunday. Not the best condition in which to write a collection of thoughts Rabbit at rest invoked while reading it.

It was quite a lenghty novel, ranging somewhat around 500 pages and its content wasn't the kind that puts you in the fast lane. It was like shoveling snow, slow and draining work, but worth it none the less.

Rabbit at rest is the last installment in a series of four books, all revolving around Harry, Rabbit, Angstrom.
It has been a while since I began reading about Harry's life, but every book made its point. It are novels that pack a punch, which you don't see coming. Our main character isn't someone to look up to, since he makes his shares of mistakes throughout life, but it does make him as real as you and me.

John Updike explores in his Rabbit series just how selfish and stubborn human nature can be. It's grasp of each era in which we follow the predicaments of Harry are spot on. I didn't experience the 60's or the 70's but I still felt like I knew what he meant. A beautiful grasp of his surrounding makes this novel come alive as few others are able to.
His latest novel is set in the last decade before the new century, where everything changed and you needed to get with it or be gone. Since I was still a child in nineties, I didn't see the metamorphosis as strongly as Rabbit did, but in hind sight it must have felt like being uprooted.

Harry is still head strong in his decisions, almost above feeling anything resembling guilt, because as he has done in the previous three novels, he still believes he can do what he wants without any repercussions.
He's in his fifties and his exuberant life style of the previous decades is being to catch up to him and his heart is giving him trouble.
He's still not on the right terms with his son, who has taken over the Toyota lot and is trying to make a living, while Harry and his wife Janice are in Florida for the winter to give Nelson the freedom he needs.

Ultimately Nelson spirals into a bad episode when he gets addicted to cocaine and Janice is forced to help him. Although Harry had made his fair share of mistakes, he resents his son making his own mistakes and can't stop badgering the boy about them. Since no one takes his side in this argument he becomes more resentful. His fading invulnerability and his dependency upon Janice, puts him in a dangerous state of mind, which ultimately ends up in his sleeping with Pru, his daughter-in-law, while Nelson is being treated for his addiction.

What seems to be the downfall of Harry is his lack of control. Janice has the money and she favours their son above him. Since it's taking place last century you must take into account that it wasn't common for men to succumb to women, although it is what Harry has done his entire life.
He's never had to take responsibility. He's never been the man of the house. He's never had to come to terms with any of the mistakes he made, which ultimately make him a weak man. Someone who rather runs than face the music.

I'll miss Harry and his world. I'd like to know whether he will have a third grand child. Whether he and Janice could reconcile. But maybe it's better not knowing, because knowing Harry, he'll find a way to fuck things up again.

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