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Rabbit Redux
by John Updike

The year is 1969, the end of a revolutionary decade, when men walked the moon and controversies raged over the Vietnam War, civil rights, women's liberation, morality and its decline. A liberated Rabbit Angstrom loses his wife to a hotshot used car salesman dripping with Vitalis and acquires a menage that includes his teenage son, a spaced-out white chick, and an evangelical black man. Rabbit lives a life that is bent, a normal life refracted in a funhouse mirror. He courts complications, all the more bizarre for their believability.




Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (1 of 90), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 03:09 PM I thought I would start this thread with a re-posting of the definition of redux.. re'dux:adj.(L.,fr.reducere to bring back) Lit.,led back; specif., Med., indicating return to health after a disease. ---Webster's New International Dictionary. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (2 of 90), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 03:17 PM Dale..re: your post about Janice in the 'Rabbit, Run' thread...this woman is so belittling to Harry, that it really upsets me at times. I can't, at this point, blame him much for anything he does. Couple this with her alcoholism and the death of her baby because of it, and I find her to be a disgusting little bitch. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (3 of 90), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 03:28 PM Beej: Janice as "disgusting little bitch" by no means puts too fine a point on it, I think. I definitely agree. At the same time, I think Updike forces us to consider chicken-and-egg in human relationships, here. For instance: Just when I'd posted about how loathesome I found their son Nelson as an adolescent and an adult, I came across your mention of the painful scene where a drunken Janice slaps baby Nelson for not eating his raw bacon she'd "cooked" for him. And I thought...gee, if Harry and Janice were my parents, and were, on top of everything else, forever mourning a sibling dead at "their" own hand, what could I possibly know about normal human relationships? What's that Old Testament verse, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge..."? >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (4 of 90), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 03:34 PM I imagine these books take Nelson well into adulthood. As a child, he had no chance but to be a victim of some pretty severe psychological damage. However, I am a big advocate of taking control of one's life as an adult, and not using upbringing or any childhood experiences, as an excuse for bad choices or behavior. So, my friend, we are, possibly, both right. What do you think? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (5 of 90), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 03:39 PM I need to rethink this, Dale. Seeing his dead baby sister when he was only three, might be too big an experience for anybody to overcome. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (6 of 90), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 03:52 PM No, Beej, I think you're still right. There are always people who triumph over the worst of circumstances, and I can't envision the implications of a belief system in which childhood/environment is allowed to trump every other factor. Some people are given a very rough "row to hoe," though, as my folks say, and I believe we should cut those people some slack if they're not models of mental health. Just how much slack, I think, is one of the main questions that face us today, especially as the genetic revolution starts actually quantifying our biological constructs. I grew up in a seriously dysfunctional family before "dysfunctional" was invented, and I can match horror stories with 95% of folks. It crippled me for life in many respects, but I've also overcome much of that through sheer grace, the love of various family members, modern pharmaceuticals, and--probably least of all--pulling myself up by my very feeble emotional bootstraps. That said, I can't quite match Nelson's childhood horror stories, but I still think he grew up to become a cold, whining, manipulative, sanctimonious S.O.B. Not to put too fine a point on it.{G} Nelson's verdict on myself, of course, is not available. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (7 of 90), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Patrick Nolan (patrick.nolan@matthewsgroup.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 05:11 PM Yep, the grownup Nelson is pretty hard to take. I've read only as far as Rabbit at Rest--haven't read the most recent one. Redux is, I think, my least favorite. Something a little unbelievably intense about its later chapters. Rabbit is sufficiently agitated to seek out some pretty extreme experiences (I'm trying to avoid spoiling), but he sleepwalks through them with a sort of deadness, a detachment.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (8 of 90), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 06:32 PM I've made a good start on this despite the Grandchild Presence. They are all wrapped up in a new game they've installed on Leif's computer. Reading this is painful for me. I well remember that wrench in the late '60s that turned the world (and me) around. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (9 of 90), Read 59 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 07:15 PM Honest to Pete, I sit here reading Rabbit's views on the world, and they're so pathetically funny I want to phone somebody just to share them. For example, Rabbit's view on the plight of the Native American: "Oh, those poor f***ing Indians," Harry says, "What were we supposed to do, let 'em have the whole continent for a campfire site?" Sorry, Tonto. On Vietnam: "Poor old LBJ, Jesus with tears in his eyes on television, you must have heard him, he just about offered to make North Vietnam the fifty-first f***ing state of the Goddam Union if they'd just stop throwing bombs...that's all our foreign policy is, is trying to give ourselves away to make little yellow people happy, and guys like you sit around lit restaurants moaning, 'Jesus, we're rotten.' " Now this Archie Bunker attitude is even funnier because these views are preceded with this: "I don't think about politics," Rabbit says. "That's one of my Goddam precious American rights, not to think about politics." Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (10 of 90), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 09:04 PM These guys ain't so funny when you know them. And I knew them. Plenty of them. No wonder I felt a disconnect with my world about then. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (11 of 90), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 09:10 PM Ruth, Rabbit makes tons of WOP references, too. But that's okay. Why should we be the exception? A Rabbit-in-real-life would be difficult to tolerate. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (12 of 90), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 09:11 PM Who am I trying to fool? You should hear some of the rednecks around here. They still think this way. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (13 of 90), Read 63 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 09:26 PM There is something touching about the scene where Janice and Rabbit confess to each other their indiscretions. After they recover from the initial shock of this knowledge, they make love repeatedly, and she cries 'cold tears, starpricks upon the slack flesh that has failed her.' Despite the bitterness and betrayal, these two people still cling to one another for comfort. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (14 of 90), Read 61 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Saturday, May 26, 2001 07:41 AM Beej: Updike can write the heck out of realism/eroticism, can't he? Here's one of the passages from REDUX that I really like... He hears steady tumbling water, climbs the stairs. The upstairs bathroom is packed with steam. Amazing, how hot women can stand water. "Harry, you've just let a lot of cold air in." She is shaving her legs in the tub and several small cuts are brightly bleeding. Though Janice was never a knockout, with something sullen and stunted and tight about her face, and a short woman in the decade of the big female balloons Hollywood sent up before it died, she always had nice legs and still does. Taut perky legs with a bony kneecap that Rabbit has always liked; he likes to see the bones in people. His wife is holding one soaped leg up as if for display and he sees through the steam the gray soap-curdled water slopping in and out around her belly and bottom as she reaches to shave the ankle, and he is standing at the top of a stairway of the uncountable other baths he has heard her take or seen her have in the fourteen years of their marriage. He can keep count of those years because their marriage is six months older than their child. He asks, "Where's Nelson?" >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (15 of 90), Read 64 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, May 26, 2001 08:14 AM Boy, he sure can. I even thought it erotic when Rabbit then climbed into her bath water "in the pool tinged with her blood and hair" As Janice continues her affair with Stavros, her every little movement becomes sensual. "Her body takes on a defiant suppleness."..."And, flirtatious, unlike her, she flicks her tongue against her upper lip and holds it there, like the spring of a trap." Updike can even write about Janice's spit and make it erotic. "Her black eyes flash at this and she spits up at his face, but misjudges; the saliva falls back into her own face. For him there is only the faintest kiss of a spray." Wow..I think I need to go get some more coffee... Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (16 of 90), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Saturday, May 26, 2001 11:47 AM BEEJ notes: "After they recover from the initial shock of this knowledge, they make love repeatedly, and she cries 'cold tears, starpricks upon the slack flesh that has failed her.'" I don't know. They didn't have Viagra in those days, and and it was sort of usual for 'slack flesh' to fail one after repeated love making. Of course, there's nothing wrong with crying cold tears at the way of the world. pres
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (17 of 90), Read 60 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, May 26, 2001 12:26 PM Haaahahahahaaaaaaahahahahahahahhahaaa!!!!!!!!! Oh, Pres! The things you say. That was truly funny. Rabbit on viagra makes me think of the energizer bunny, marching straight forward..beating his own little drum.... Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (18 of 90), Read 61 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, May 26, 2001 12:32 PM Okay, Harry has gone to the bar with his black co-worker, Buchanan ( who calls Harry Br'er Rabbit). I've met Babe, Skeeter and Jill, Harry has discovered pot and 18 year old Jill has moved in with him. Janice, now living with her Greek lover, has found out about Jill and has threatened to take Nelson.. this is all getting very interesting! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (19 of 90), Read 67 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, May 26, 2001 03:13 PM I'm half done with this book, Jill who is 18 is living with Rabbit, who is 36..Nelson, 13, lives with them. This set up bothers me. I can't figure out why Updike has put an 18 year old girl in Rabbit's life, at this time, except to make him appear not quite a total victim, but still somewhat, a victimizer. And yet, maybe he isn't victimizing Jill, despite her youth. Maybe he is her victim. A question for those who have read Redux..is Buchanan a pimp? He offers to set Rabbit up with Babe, and at the same time, after remarking on how well things are going between Jill and Harry, asks for $20, which Rabbit gives him. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (20 of 90), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, May 27, 2001 08:26 PM Patrick, you said: Redux is, I think, my least favorite. Something a little unbelievably intense about its later chapters. Rabbit is sufficiently agitated to seek out some pretty extreme experiences, but he sleepwalks through them with a sort of deadness, a detachment. I have about 100 pages left to read, and I see what you mean. And Rabbit's detachment is disgusting. We talk about Nelson a lot...but his infancy is scarred and, in his adolescence, he experiences way, way too much..this 'Nellie' didn't have a chance. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (21 of 90), Read 33 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 06:18 AM I share your opinion of Janice, Beej. Still, I think you will find as you progress that just as with the obnoxious Rabbit, you will develop this perverse fondness for Janice. I am so thankful that Updike keeps them together. On the other hand, screwed up childhood or no, I would love to beat Nelson like a mule. It is difficult for me to think of a literary character more repugnant. I think you will also come to understand my feelings on that score. John Updike is the best writer about sex that our culture has ever produced. In a couple of the other books he goes over the top, but in these the sex and eroticism is a tour de force. But that's my last word on it. Dale has indicated that we're going to discuss the Rabbit series with no more sex talk. (I have been silent here for two or three days trying to figure out just how we're going to do that.) Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (22 of 90), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 07:31 AM Mr. Warbasse: Good to hear some reinforcement of my very unfatherly feelings toward Nelson Angstrom. And of course, when I said "no more sex" in the RABBIT discussions, I had my tongue lodged firmly in cheek. (Is there a keyboard 'emoticon' for that?) Now, let's get back to the sex parts... >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (23 of 90), Read 38 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 08:01 AM Dale, >Is there a keyboard 'emoticon' for that?) I thought there was but I can't find it in my 'list'. I did find the acronym, though. TIC (Plus finding the smiley for lewd comment and others that might fit this discussion.) Bo
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (24 of 90), Read 40 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 08:03 AM Okay, Dale! The reason I say that Updike is the best, is because the sex is mixed in with everything else as it really seems to be out here. Also, he portrays it in all its multi-dimensional forms from the absolutely ghastly to the sublime. I have a friend who contends that the worst sex he ever had was fabulous. Blessed is he, I say. I don't think that's the common experience, and Updike does a wonderful job of portraying it at its worst as well as at its best. More about all this when we get to Rabbit is Rich. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (25 of 90), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 08:23 AM I have only 30 more pages left of Redux left to read, and have Rabbit Is Rich right here beside me. Dale, Discussing Rabbit without discussing sex? I knew you said that tongue in cheek. Now, as you so eloquently put it, let's get back to the sex parts... Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (26 of 90), Read 33 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 09:12 AM I can't quite understand why Rabbit allowed Skeeter to move in, or why he just sat there when Skeeter is so obviously abusive to Jill...toward the end, there. And, what all occurred between Jill and Nelson? Was it ever made clear? I could have just shook Jill. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (27 of 90), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 09:14 AM :^) David, with a TIC
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (28 of 90), Read 36 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 09:20 AM Good deal then. You will be right in the thick of it from the get-go with Rabbit is Rich, Beej. No question in my mind that you are going to love this one. In preparation I am trying to determine how to handle the word "****" when quoting some of my favorite Rich passages. I notice that you opted for the asterisks, and therefore I guess I will go with that. When I type it that way, it seems to connote a blushing linguistic innocence as if I were saying, "I am not comfortable with this word," when in fact I am pretty comfortable with it. I just used it to great effect (albeit in the non-sexual sense) this morning when I bumped my head on the sink while swabbing the bathroom floor. It was cathartic and analgesic, and there are no small children around the house here anymore. However, when in Rome. . . . Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (29 of 90), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 09:22 AM That is the very reason Rabbit Redux is not my favorite, Beej. As you know, I love ambiguity and even a little mystery, but there are things that don't fit together at all here. It seems a little more "nailed together slipshod" than the others. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (30 of 90), Read 38 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 09:25 AM To tell the truth, originally I wrote the word out..went back and changed it to the asterisks..changed it back ...went back again to the asterisks, and then actually, down in WORDS..asked which is preferable..then deleted that..(I was busy, huh?) My personal belief is that we should write it as the author does. I don't think its a word any of us is unfamiliar with. But, either way, its okay with me..You choose the method and I will follow suit. (As far as the kids go, you should have heard the language my son used when his lego building fell down,,he didn't realize mom was right behind him...trust me, he knows the word..) Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (31 of 90), Read 38 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 09:29 AM Steve, it just seemed out of character for me that Rabbit would simply sit there as an observer during that escapade. And, was there a hint of a bit of homosexual attraction to Skeeter? Again, out of character, except possibly as an 'anything goes' sort of thing. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (32 of 90), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:00 AM One facet of Rabbit's character that seems blatant to me is that he is ineffectual at critical times. Also, that hint of homosexual attraction I thought was brilliant. You are most certainly correct. It is there. My criticism, I suppose, is less directed toward any particular scene. Rather, it is obvious that Updike wanted to address the Vietnam War, the flower child phenomenon, drugs, and black radicalism in this book. In order to do so, he brought these people together in rather contrived ways. Now, he does exactly the same thing in the other books in terms of incorporating cultural themes and current events, but he does it in the other three books in a much less cumbersome manner. It all seems to flow beautifully and naturally in the others. Here he was visibly pressing a little, I think. But that's just one person's opinion. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (33 of 90), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:05 AM Maybe he had no other choice but to write it this way, in a dichotomy of the surreal vs. the dark..because that's how the times were. The late sixties did not flow beautifully and naturally. and either does Updike's portrayal of them. Perhaps this is intentional, I don't know.. And at least for me, it was an uncomfortable combination. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (34 of 90), Read 42 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:07 AM Updike's ability to project the feeling of each generation..and I know this has been pointed out repeatedly here, is about as an amazing literary accomplishment as I have ever seen. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (35 of 90), Read 40 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:21 AM Very, very good point, Beej. Updike was most probably as disoriented as the rest of us were. It's still a wonderful book. He has so many things dead on. The marijuana phenomenon for example. Throughout the sixties marijuana usage was a political statement. It was confined to a group of people with pretty clearly defined political and social beliefs. Rednecks defined themselves to some extent by their hatred of these people. They stuck to alcohol and put bumper stickers on their trucks that said, "I'd Rather Step in Shit than Smoke It." The country and western crowd. Then there came this big and very sudden transition. Country and western people came around to the fact that they liked marijuana, too--a lot, as it turns out. Along with very long hair. Updike explores all this with the red necked Rabbit. By the way, I attribute that whole transition in the country and western area to one person, and it ain't Willie Nelson. (Although he is from Luckenbach, too. The bumper sticker reference above is another hint, Dale.) Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (36 of 90), Read 38 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:30 AM Can you drop another little hint? like maybe the name? I can't figure out who you mean. Somehow in my mind, I always connected the sixties revolution to a combination of the assassination of Kennedy/The Beatles phenomena/the Vietnam war...lots going on emotionally for kids back then. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (37 of 90), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:37 AM What do you mean, "Somehow in my mind. . . ?" Of course you are right, Beej. I guess that I should explain that from my own point of view the sixties ended in 1968 when we started to career into something far more surreal and far more excessive--the seventies. And Updike is writing here from a perspective after 1968. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (38 of 90), Read 40 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:46 AM A lot going emotionally for all of us back then, Beej. The world we'd thought was stable did a big wrench-around. And you were either wrenched with it or you weren't. And either way, it was painful. And I'm finding this book painful to read. I'm just 2 years younger than Rabbit. My experience with his blue-collar world is limited, but my experience with the disjointedness (that THAT kind of joints) that so many of us in our 30s felt in those times was vast. I've just gotten to the part where Rabbit takes Jill home. It was pretty cool how Buchanan and Company foisted her off on him. Like Babe said, that pale white little girl just made them too conspicuous. They needed a way to ditch her nicely, and they found their chump. Rabbit the chump. How helpless and clueless he is. As were many of us. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (39 of 90), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:48 AM But how come that bar is afraid to serve alcohol to a minor, because there may be police spies, when there seems to be no problem with the joints. For that matter, could Rabbit have actually been that innocent that he didn't notice the smell the moment he opened the door? Just a little detail that made a bump for me. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (40 of 90), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:56 AM Haha!!! That's a good point, Ruth! Babe was one of my favorite characters in this book. I wish we could have known more about her, but then again, in real life interesting people come and go far too soon to really get to know them. In a way, Babe reminds me of Ruth (again, not our Ruth, but the one Rabbit shacks up with..)maybe its her strength. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (41 of 90), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 10:58 AM Steve: Are you referring to Waylon Jennings, by any chance? Then, too, there are the wonderful lines from that time period in Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee": We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee We don't take our trips on LSD We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street We like living right and being free We don't make a party out of loving We like holding hands and pitching woo We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy Like the hippies out in San Francisco do I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee A place where even squares can have a ball We still wave Old Glory down at the court house And white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all... Particularly to the liver cells, one would presume. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (42 of 90), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:01 AM Also the sixties wrench-around came on the heels of the fifties Eisenhower lull...a double whammy there, in comparison I would imagine. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (43 of 90), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:03 AM Beej & Ruth: The alcohol/marijuana disparities throughout this story remind me of Skeeter's wonderful speech to Rabbit about how superior smoking dope is to drinking. At one point, Skeeter says, "Beer rots the soul, man." Rabbit takes this as vital new information, as did I.{G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (44 of 90), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:03 AM Dale, pitching woo? No wonder I like Waylon!!!! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (45 of 90), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:11 AM Okay, Steve,,,I'm done with Redux and moving up into the seventies. Do you want to start a new 'Rabbit Is Rich' thread or wait until Ruth and Bo catch up? (I suppose we can all go back and forth as the need arises, tho.) Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (46 of 90), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:13 AM Beej: Looking at photographs of hard-ridden Merle doesn't exactly jibe with his song's quaint usage of "pitching woo," does it? I guess the woo must have pitched back. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (47 of 90), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:17 AM hahahahaaa!!!! Silly, um, well...Rabbit! They sure don't make a cowboy like they used too, do they!!!! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (48 of 90), Read 42 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:18 AM No, Dale, but I understand your guess. Let me lay my theory before you. We can attribute this transition to a young man (then) named Jerry Jeff Walker. With him came into existence something called "Progressive Country." I think it is clear that Okie From Muskogie is a veritable anthem to those attitudes. It is sincere to the core. When people first started to sing along with Jerry Jeff on Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother, they thought that it, too, was an anthem to those attitudes. However, as they continued to sing along it dawned on them that those attitudes were being mercilessly pilloried by the song. And since your average country and western fan is far smarter than your average rock fan, they took the lesson very nearly over night. Had it not been for Jerry Jeff Walker, who ironically was not a big pothead himself, Willie Nelson would have had to continue to hide his marijuana use, keep his hair bouffant, and wear spangled Porter Wagner jackets in order keep his fan base. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (49 of 90), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:23 AM When I was married to that journalist, we went with a friend of ours, who was writing an article on Jerry Jeff Walker, to a concert. Walker was soooo drunk he could not perform, and after about a half hour the concert was shut down. Our writer friend was a HUGE Walker fan and was in tears. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (50 of 90), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:27 AM Steve: Jerry Jeff! Excellent theory. "Redneck Mother" was a turning point, for sure. It also paved the way for such gems as Charlie Daniels' "Uneasy Rider," don't you think? Mario Andretti woulda sure been proud Of the way I was movin' when I passed that crowd... >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (51 of 90), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:31 AM Don't you think JJ Walker also eased the way for not only Jennings, and Nelson, but Kristoffersen, too? I mean here is Kristoffersen, a Rhodes Scholar, but as redneck and radical as the next guy. Somehow I want to tie this in with Updike as an Oxford graduate...and his insight into the Rabbit/Skeeter lifestyles. (I do have a point here, I just can't figure out what it is.) Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (52 of 90), Read 57 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:36 AM All this stuff is perfectly on topic, Beej. No question about it, Dale. And in the midst of such sea changes in attitudes, is it any wonder that Rabbit, who is dumber than the average rock fan, loses his way a little? I must leave for a viewing of the grandchildren now. I promise to watch my langage. Keep it up. I shall return. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (53 of 90), Read 62 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 11:42 AM I'm not sure if he was dumber or just average. How hard it must have been for a 36 year old man, who lived the best part of life during his adolescence, to deal with the youth revolution of the sixties. Yet, he never seems out of his element in dealing with the doings of all these kids. He seems to easily acclimate. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (54 of 90), Read 55 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 01:36 PM About language---does CR have any 'rules' about how to post? It seems to me that it makes a big difference if you're obviously quoting an author or if you're saying the word to someone in a flame. ;) I actually haven't faced this on my own forum and I'm not sure what I'd do. Probably not type the quote (bluck, bluck, bluck). Ruth, >>A lot going emotionally for all of us back then, Beej. The world we'd thought was stable did a big wrench-around. And you were either wrenched with it or you weren't. And either way, it was painful. I've become much more aware of this in the last few years when trying to talk to my parents about some of the things that have shaped my life. They haven't a clue that things like Watergate and Vietnam (to name a few) made a difference in how I see the world. >>And I'm finding this book painful to read. I'm just 2 years younger than Rabbit. My experience with his blue-collar world is limited, but my experience with the I looked at the book in the library but decided that it might not be the best time for me to read it. I've been reading Bukowski and street gangs and I'm depressed enough! :) >>But how come that bar is afraid to serve alcohol to a minor, because there may be police spies, when there seems to be no problem with the joints. For that matter, could Rabbit have actually been that innocent that he didn't notice the smell the moment he opened the door? Just a little detail that made a bump for me. What city does this take place in? I just read that in Chicago in the 50s that legal age for alcohol for women was 18 and boys was 21. And there were all kinds of bizarre irregularities in terms of what would and wouldn't get the police. Apparently illegal strip bars weren't a problem but you had to watch what you did with your car. What I always hated about the Okie song was that having grown up in Skokie, people would jump there with the song. Bo
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (55 of 90), Read 60 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 02:28 PM Heck, if we're old enough to read books with "bad" words in 'em, we're old enough to read the quotes here on the board. On the other hand, we are too mature to use them speaking of each other. Pure and simple. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (56 of 90), Read 67 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 03:13 PM Guys, Trust me..the F word in literature doesn't bother me a bit..I used asteriks because I didn't want to offend anyone else. So? The general consensus as we continue is, if its good enough for Alfred A. Knopf, its good enough for us. Right? Tonya, what's your feeling about this? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (57 of 90), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 05:31 PM RUTH says: On the other hand, we are too mature to use them speaking of each other. Pure and simple. Ain't that the f------ truth ! pres, word nerd
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (58 of 90), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Theresa Simpson (theresa.a.simpson@gte.net) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 01:12 AM Another reason not to use the F-word: I was in SF this week-end and logged on at a public computer, only to be barred from reading certain posts. I was mystified. Mystery answered - sheesh, I leave town for a couple of days and y'all get up to all sorts of mischief! Theresa
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (59 of 90), Read 30 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 02:14 PM Ruth, I know you are finding Redux a bit disturbing but I do so hope you finish it and then move on to Rabbit Is Rich..that one makes up for all the darkness in Rabbit Redux. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (60 of 90), Read 25 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 02:53 PM Disturbing is no reason to quit reading. What good would a novel be if it didn't involve your emotions in one way or another? I'm only lagging because other things keep barging in on my reading time. I just read the description of the film crew outside the bar. Jeez, this man can write. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (61 of 90), Read 22 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: S. Bohinka (bohinka@riconnect.com) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 04:51 PM Theresa, Not something I would have thought of. Thanks for mentioning it. Bo
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (62 of 90), Read 22 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 06:42 PM Ruth, That's the spirit that built the west! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (63 of 90), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:02 PM I'm telling you, if this book is ever filmed, the plum role, would be Skeeter. He's limned so clearly he makes everyone else look slightly out of focus. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (64 of 90), Read 21 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:04 PM And was it here, that ol' Stevo wrote on how well Updike writes the sex scenes. Maybe he writes them well, I dunno. But his sex scenes, both here and elsewhere, usually make my skin crawl. There's something kind of distasteful about them. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (65 of 90), Read 20 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:17 PM Skeeter is disgusting and I hated how Harry was so passive about Skeeter and Jill. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (66 of 90), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:22 PM But he's such a character, Beej. If I were a young, black actor I'd kill to play this role. He's so clear, in such focus. It's just like when he takes his shirt off and Rabbit is amazed to see every muscle clearly defined. He turns Rabbit into a pale white blob. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (67 of 90), Read 21 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:29 PM Oh for sure! He's interesting and really into his beliefs..but the way he treats Jill is repulsive. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (68 of 90), Read 22 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:35 PM I wonder why they haven't made a movie from these books.. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (69 of 90), Read 25 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 11:58 PM I love his vocabulary. And I hate the way Rabbit treats Jill, too. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (70 of 90), Read 21 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 07:24 AM I still haven't figured out why Rabbit just stood there watching Skeeter's mistreatment of Jill. I think Steve got it right. Rabbit sort of goes into this frozen state when things suddenly go sour. He seems to freeze on the spot. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (71 of 90), Read 24 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 07:27 AM Ruth, let me know when you're finished with Redux please..I have a question I want to ask you. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (72 of 90), Read 22 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 09:20 AM Ruth: That Skeeter is one intense son of a gun, isn't he? Whenever I think back on REDUX, the first image into my mind is of Skeeter's eyes. Between his intimidating intelligence and his air of simmering menace, I think he permeates the whole book, even the scenes where he doesn't appear. That would be an actor's dream, for sure. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (73 of 90), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 01:27 PM I'm closing in on the end, Beej. "...intimidating intelligence and his air of simmering menace..." You nailed it, Dale. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (74 of 90), Read 17 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 01:31 PM Oh cool! You are going to continue with Rabbit Is Rich, right? Have you dealt with the fire yet? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (75 of 90), Read 17 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 01:49 PM The fire broke out at about 10 last night. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (76 of 90), Read 20 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 02:23 PM ok..who do you think set it? You tell me who you think, and I will tell you who I think, and why. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (77 of 90), Read 22 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 03:38 PM As of now I think it's the Nasty Neighbor, the military type. But that could be a red herring. Could Janice be a dark horse? Do we find out in the book? Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (78 of 90), Read 22 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 03:41 PM No we don't but i think Skeeter did it..but I won't tell you why until you're done. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (79 of 90), Read 24 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 03:42 PM I figured Skeeter was just too obvious a choice. I wonder if Updike knows. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (80 of 90), Read 25 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 03:47 PM Ruth, When you're all done I'll tell you why I think Updike makes it obvious to me it was Skeeter. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (81 of 90), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 05:15 PM Okay, shoot. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (82 of 90), Read 20 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 05:29 PM Jill's wallet with the money from the sale of the Jaguar was gone. The white neighbors didn't know about it. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (83 of 90), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 05:42 PM That does point towards Skeeter, doesn't it? But then again, it coulda burned up. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (84 of 90), Read 19 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 06:09 PM Well, I thought there was something about the wallet being kept in her lingerie drawer, and after the fire Harry searched through the stuff in that drawer for the wallet and it wasn't there. I will look for that passage in the book later tonight. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (85 of 90), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 09:14 PM Ruth,This is what I found: first of all remember Skeeter told Harry, when he asked Harry for money, that he had left his wallet in the back of the sofa... 'He (Harry) found no wallet in the sofa,and no black bag (Skeeter's) in the closet. Jill's bureau had been along the wall of which only charred 2 by 4s remained, yet he prodded the ashes for a scrap of the six hundred dollars..' Well, as I reread that, it really ISN'T conclusive that the wallet did not burn..But I still think it was Skeeter, even though Harry told Jill's mother it wasn't, that Skeeter loved Jill. (Baloney to that sentiment, tho!) Does anybody else have an idea who started this fire? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (86 of 90), Read 14 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 09:35 PM I remembered the bit about the wallet in the sofa, but I thought perhaps Skeeter had put it someplace else. I forgot the disappearance of the black bag. I bet you're right, Detective Connor. Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (87 of 90), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 09:42 PM I hate thinking it was Skeeter, but he was so angry at the whites that I think he may have felt it was justified. And I believe he was saying 'screw you' to the whites when he was so sexually harsh with Jill. Remember, too, when Skeeter got Jill to begin shooting up again, he said something to the effect of "now I own her." Sort of a slavery issue payback there, perhaps. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (88 of 90), Read 17 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 09:49 PM I agree, Beej. There were parts of Skeeter I empathized with, and he was obviously very intelligent. On the whole, I didn't like this book as much as the first. Not because it was depressing, I do depressing books very well. Not because it reminded me of a painful period in my life. (Gawd, I lived in Park Villas, or whatever the heck it was called.) Certainly not because of the flashes of inspired writing. But I thought the book was flawed by stretches of pretty ordinary writing. And I was bored to tears by all the verbatim quotes Skeeter had them reading, and the speeches he made. I kept wanting to say, "Alright, alright, I get. Let's get the show on the road." Ruth ďAin't it funny how an old broken bottle looks just like a diamond ring." John Prine
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (89 of 90), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 09:58 PM I thought those Skeeter readings were pretty dull too, as a whole. There was a question Harry posed to somebody that caught my interest, He said if the kids (of the late 60's, of course) were faced with World War II right then, would they have been willing to fight? Was it the issue and hopelessness of the Vietnam war, REALLY, or more than that? Would that generation have been willing to fight in a justifiable war? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Redux: John Updike (90 of 90), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 10:47 PM Seeing a documentary on Pearl Harbor the other day got me thinking about this, too. I was only 6, but I remember that day clear as a bell. Don't forget that it was the Japanese attack on US territory that pushed us into WWII. There was a tremendous sense of outrage. And it was fed and fueled all during the war. This wasn't something we were doing way off in a country most of us had never noticed before. We were attacked. I know it was more complicated than that. That there were actions on both sides that led up to it. But this is the way it was perceived. The outrage must have been strong if it permeated down to a little kid like me. Ruth "Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry---all of it---is a trip into the unknown." Vladimir Mayakovsky

 

 

John Updike

 
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