Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Classics Spin 17 - Updike's Rabbit, Run...a big DNF #ccspin


I made a pact with myself to never continue reading a book I'm not liking past 50 pages (100 max). With this one, I had to remind myself that the rule should also apply to classics. I'm sorry. I just could not keep reading (and this is part one of a four part series. Ack!).

I have never despised a character quite as much as Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. Ugh. If I had to listen to one more line of his self-serving internal diatribe, I may have used the book to beat myself unconscious. Extreme? Read it, or try to. I do realize there are some who probably like this. Sorry if this offends you, but we all have our likes and dislikes. I have to keep this in mind when I find someone doesn't like a book I enjoy.

I came across this fantastic treatise about the book over on Goodreads. This gentleman by the name of Jason Pettus is the owner of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com] (CCLaP). He embarked on a mission called the CCLaP 100. It's mission statement: "In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label."

I'm going to share some highlights from Essay #48: Rabbit, Run (1960), by John Updike. You can follow the linked title to read the entire essay, or click below the quotes.

The argument against:
"...being guilty of nearly every criticism that's ever been made about Postmodernism: it is overly talky yet goes nowhere, much more interested in precocious language than in constructing a good story, designed to appeal not to the general public but mostly to his fellow academes, and which lacquers a shiny intellectual sheen over what in reality is some pretty brutal misogyny, the kind of whiny, rambling snoozer that inspired the creation of such frou-frou critical terms as "essayistic saunter," "interruption of the abyss," "sense of self-qualification," "a dialectical theological debate between the book itself and its reader..."

My verdict:
"So to understand what my personal reaction to Rabbit, Run was, you really only need to know this -- that after starting it, not only did I quickly abandon my original plan to read all four "Rabbit" novels as part of this essay series, but even the first book itself became one of only a handful of CCLaP 100 titles so far I haven't been able to finish, and the only one so far that I abandoned not for arcane outdated language but rather because IT WAS SO FREAKING TERRIBLE. And that's because, Dear Lord, every single thing that critics of this book complain about is true; and in fact you could strongly argue that this single title virtually creates the blueprint for every snotty, cooly ironic, pop-culture-obsessed, casually sexist diatribe about jaded middle-class white people in the Big Bad Suburbs that has come since, a glut that had become intolerable by the turn of the 21st century and that the "Sincerists" of post-9/11 literature* are actively fighting against."


Yes, he pretty much summed up my feelings.

So, another Classics Club spin not completed, a title which needs replacing on my Classics Club list AND the book for April not completed for my Read Your (Book) Shelf challenge. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some.


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2 comments:

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  1. At least your blog post made me smile...

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  2. Quite awhile ago, I tried to read this book, and simply couldn't. It was dreadful, and I kept on thinking, what have I done to punish by reading this thing! I will never attempt another John Updike, life's too short, but I really enjoyed your review as well as the excerpt from the GoodReads reviewer.

    Better luck spinning next time!

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