Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit R.I.P.

As has been reported and commented extensively, John Updike passed away today.

Though I've never been a huge fan and in fact have resented some of Updike's attempts at SF, I felt compelled to comment because Updike's Rabbit novels were very key for me in graduate school, particularly when I wrote my thesis about coming of age and rites of passage in American literature.

Like many modern fictional characters, including Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, Sal Paradise from On the Road, Updike's Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom epitomized the immature adult who is unwilling and unable to articulate or responsibly confront his problems.

Rabbit almost gets it of course and Updike's prose is dead on in demonstrating the failed realization:
"You don't think there's any answer to that but there is. I once did something right. I
played first-rate basketball. I really did. And after you're first-rate at something, no
matter what, it kind of takes the kick out of being second-rate."
Farewell, John Updike.

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