Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 47: John Updike, Rabbit, Run


A jam-packed episode this week. We talk about the first of John Updike’s Rabbit series, in particular its portrayal of sex and the Male Pre-Middle-Life Crisis. Harry Angstrom is a 26-year-old former high-school basketball star who feels trapped in his marriage and his life, so he decides to take off, at least temporarily. We try to figure out whether we’re meant to sympathize with Harry or be critical of his life choices.


Also this week, Mike’s got an update on his NaNoWriMo-ing. And our first ever Rating Reconsidered, in which one of us has decided to change his rating of a book from a previous episode. Plus we try some brandy (and also try to figure out what brandy is).

We’re still running our fundraising drive, and we’d love to have your support. If we raise $2,000 we’ll record a bonus episode about a book chosen by our listeners (i.e., you). We’ve also got some great donor gifts, like our friends and family anthology, with stories by past guests Owen King, Katherine Hill, Paul Lisicky, and more. Please visit our support page, where you can donate quickly and easily using PayPal.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode.


Download Episode 47 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening! If you’ve got feedback, you can email us at bookfight(at)gmail(dot)com, you can follow us on Twitter, or contact us through our website. And come back next week for even more good times.


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

3 thoughts on “Episode 47: John Updike, Rabbit, Run

  1. Thanks for giving fair justice to one of my favorite books, gentlemen. The remaining books in the series tend to put more weight into Rabbit’s reactions to world events (moon landing, hippie culture, energy crisis, etc.) and therefore feel more important and substantive in my opinion, even though there’s still a lot of self-absorbed (and far-fetched) sex as Rabbit enters middle age.

    One thing about Janice in Rabbit, Run is how infantilized she is. When we first see her she’s watching the Mickey Mouse Club, drinking old fashioneds with sugar, after a day of shopping with her mother. Her character evolves significantly over the rest of the series.

  2. Thanks, Neil. I think you’re right about the infantilization. Interested to see how her character changes over the series.

  3. In the early twentieth century, in his series of lectures entitled Pragmatism, the philosopher and psychologist William James advanced the thesis that, broadly speaking, people can be separated into two general categories of personality – tough minded and tender minded.

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