Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (1 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 10:05 PM Might as well get this one started. I almost plotzed when I saw the opening sentence, "Janice Harrison...." Ruth "Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry---all of it---is a trip into the unknown." Vladimir Mayakovsky
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (2 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 10:12 PM Plotz?!! hahahahaaa!!! I'd sure like to lay a plotz on that witchy woman! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (3 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 10:18 PM How could she marry him? HOW!!!!!????? She knew he was Rabbit's enemy! I hate her, I HATE her! So Ronnie got the last laugh..Doesn't that just make you want to PLOTZ!!!??? (Ruth, I love that word..thanks) Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (4 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, June 06, 2001 11:17 PM You know, for me, all this goes to show is that Rabbit as a member of the human race, really, never had a clue. As much as he 'victimized' or 'trivialized' women (as might have been said by some Updike critics), in the end, women did the same to Rabbit. He was just a genial, attractive, putz, in the final analysis. He was a little boy, who, beyond his gonads, never grew up. That has a certain, timeless charm, but it's not the stuff of heroism or great character. To the extent Rabbit looms large in our minds and memories, I think it is because his not-very-admirable-not-very-typical character is so excruciatingly well developed, in all it's horrifying imperfection, by Updike the writer. And, not merely in one book, but in a multiple of consistently toned and written books, across 30 years -- what a literary triumph, to have created such a vibrant character (although we must concede, that part of the vibrancy is that Rabbit is always, despite moments of gentility and sweetness, a pluperfect ass hole most of the time -- and who among us hasn't had such an imperfect, but much loved friend?) and I think, in the end, the kudos go to Updike and not to Rabbit, who, despite everything, I don't very much like as a human being. Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (5 of 152), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 12:46 AM I agree with everything you said, Dick, except the not-very-typical character of Rabbit. Maybe the northern climes are too cold for rabbits, but in my experience they are in plentiful supply down here. Ruth "Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry---all of it---is a trip into the unknown." Vladimir Mayakovsky
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (6 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dottie Randall (randallj@ix.netcom.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:10 AM Okay -- so the fact that I loathed and yet recognized the character in the book I consigned to the trash is actually an accolade to Up[dike's ability to create such a vibrant while faulty and human character? Do I have that concept straight, Dick? So this means a second nudge to go start the Rabbit books -- which first volume was unfortunately not available in the Bibliotheek this morning and so I'm still looking forward (well -- maybe that's a bit too optimistic) to beginning this series. Dottie -- who walked the entire inner ring along the Groene Boulevard making her stop at the Bib and getting poured upon during the walk home ID is an oxymoron!
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (7 of 152), Read 55 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 07:06 AM Dick, I was a bit taken aback when you said Rabbit was also victimized by women. But the more I think about it, the more I agree. There's Janice, and we all know Janice victimized Harry in a multitude of ways, not the least being holding his financial cojones (as Dale put it) in her back pocket and handing them to Nelson. there's Ruth, who held back an acknowledgement, much less any sort of relationship, that they shared a daughter. Then Jill, who not only used Harry for a roof over her head, but actually lost her life under that roof. Pru, who cleared her conscience with Nelson sans any regard as to how this would affect Harry and Harry's relationships with wife and son. And lets not forget ma Springer. Harry was her favorite verbal whipping board. But the one exception is Thelma. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (8 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 07:18 AM Getting back to this marriage between Janice and Ronnie, even Janice wonders if he married her as a dig to Harry. She wonders sometimes if Ronnie married her just to score somehow on Harry. He now refers to Rabbit as 'Fuckbunny'. Janice says; Ronnie, honey, why are you so rude about Harry? He's dead. He can't bother us now. I wonder what she meant by that...'He can't bother us now.' Ronnie replies, He bothers me. (not bothered, but BOTHERS) He screwed my wife. There is still the competition. Ronnie is still playing an emotional basketball game against Harry. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (9 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 07:37 AM Beej: Janice and Ronnie are quite a pair, aren't they? Their perverse motivations for being together run so deep I don't think either of them have a clue. And you're right; except for Thelma, the women in Harry's life all dumped on him. I was the most disappointed in Pru, because I'd come to have such a high opinion of her. I've noticed, throughout my life, that women tend to "unburden their consciences" with an uncanny sense of timing for doing the most harm. When the word "conscience" comes up, it's time to duck and cover because the manure is about to hit the fan. But, I'm not bitter or anything.{G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (10 of 152), Read 55 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 08:19 AM Dale, Just some random thoughts here.. When you really think about Janice, wouldn't you say she is actually amoral? This unburdening of conscience..at least when Pru confessed her encounter with Rabbit, she did it with some good intention in her heart. And, yes, the manure hit the fan. But, remember when Janice told Rabbit about Charlie? Here was a case of pure maliciousness. Janice not only wanted the manure to hit the fan, she wanted it to blow entirely on Rabbit, and Rabbit alone. Not once, in all these books, has she thought of that affair with any sort of guilt. But perhaps Rabbit was amoral, too. Perhaps that's one of the things that held them together. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (11 of 152), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 08:52 AM Beej: I'm thinking "amoral" describes Janice to a T. Her entire lookout is Janice, and I believe that state comes so naturally to her she just assumes everybody is the same way. A lot of Harry's cruelty to women was bumbling and obtuse, not nearly the equal of Janice...who, as you say, comes from pure malice and the joy of twisting the knife. I was taken by the fact that during Annabelle's visit Janice's mind turns to the weighty topic of why the girl doesn't at least bother to get a tan. Brrrr, but this woman gives me the creeps. Good work, J.U. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (12 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 09:54 AM Dick, I've been pondering your interesting note myself. I think it is a perceptive analysis generally. (The complexity of these characters and of their relationships with each other is astounding. That is precisely why we can discuss these things ad infinitum.) The only thing is, your observations make it sound a bit as if Rabbit was really a nonentity. Fact is though that Rabbit had a great impact on the people around him. He continues to have an impact on these people after his death. They must continue to deal with him. There is a scene in this Rabbit Remembered where his presence is felt by Nelson, Annabelle, and others in a car as they are driving around. (This presence isn't named, but it seems perfectly clear that it is Rabbit.) He is a person against whom others have to continually measure themselves, even after he is dead. In attempting to arrive at conclusions about Rabbit himself, I am reduced to personalizing. I suspect that I would have loved to be around him in spite of his lack of character, his limited intellect, his immaturity, his ass-holedness. We have here a man-child just as you have described, but a man-child with that indefinable thing called charisma. It is this charisma that separates him from the run-of-the-mill men-children to whom Ruth refers. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (13 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 09:59 AM Steve, What an excellent post. I would love to have been around him, too (no secret to anyone here)..because he was so very, very charismatic. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (14 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:02 AM He drew people to him. No matter what they thought of him, no matter how little they might have mattered to him, they wanted to be around him. Including us. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (15 of 152), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:08 AM Precisely, Beej. Given the accuracy of Dick's description of him, how else can we explain his affect on the other characters in the book and how else can we explain our own reaction to him? I would compare it to the "star quality" of some actors. A particular actor might be of limited intellect, utter without redeeming character, and all that, but if he has this quality, we can't keep our eyes off him and we want to read about his personal life and we keep going back to his shitty movies to be in his presence. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (16 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:11 AM I've been trying to think of other literary figures with this sort of charisma..Captain Corelli comes to mind. But we weren't given the insight into his mind as deeply as we were Rabbit's. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (17 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:13 AM And one more thing while I'm on this little roll. We are much quicker to forgive people who have this charisma that I'm talking about than we are others. It is as if charismatic people are above the rules of human conduct that normally adhere. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (18 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:14 AM Don't everyone groan at once now. I think Rhett Butler is a prime example of this. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (19 of 152), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:15 AM Maybe thats what makes them charismatic. Because they do seem above the rules of human conduct. They appear freer, and seem to fly higher than the rest of the world. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (20 of 152), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:16 AM Rhett Butler is actually a good example..he is the ultimate Rabbit of the 1800's! I think Rhett had more passion, but he certainly was charismatic. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (21 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:24 AM Speaking of charismatic people who behave (and very convincingly) as though the rules don't apply to them, there's O.J. Simpson. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (22 of 152), Read 59 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:25 AM Oh, man, Dale! Is that ever a great comparison! Talk about a Rabbit personified! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (23 of 152), Read 67 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:27 AM And Clinton! Intelligent and charismatic. Actually a deadly combination for some women. Like me. I voted for him. And would again. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (24 of 152), Read 63 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:30 AM Now Rhett had charisma. Rabbit? Surely you jest. I don't think I could stand being around him for a minute. I can be fond of him in an abstract way, I can contemplate with sorrow his clueless life, but if you have him to your house for cocktails, exclude me. Ruth "Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry---all of it---is a trip into the unknown." Vladimir Mayakovsky
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (25 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:31 AM Ack, here I am, trying to get my post properly in line, and you've answered it already. Ah well. So you fancy a tete-a-tete with our Rabbit, Beej? Ruth "Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry---all of it---is a trip into the unknown." Vladimir Mayakovsky
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (26 of 152), Read 59 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:31 AM hahahaha!!!Ruth, If i had Rabbit here, it would just be me and him, I promise! Oh, yes, I think he was charismatic, You betcha I do. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (27 of 152), Read 57 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:33 AM Ruth, how could I not? I've taken this man to bed with me every single night for two weeks now! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (28 of 152), Read 58 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:34 AM Have you finished Remembered? I finished last night. Nelson didn't turn out so bad. Screwed up, but not malicious. Ruth "Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry---all of it---is a trip into the unknown." Vladimir Mayakovsky
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (29 of 152), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:37 AM Not yet..every time I sit down to read I come across something I want to post in here! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (30 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 01:16 PM I think the simple answer there, Ruthie, is that not every single person is vulnerable the charisma of an individual. I'm pretty sure that I would be vulnerable to Rabbit's. I would not go as far as Beej has though. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (31 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 02:35 PM We would hope not. Meanwhile, I have to read this Remembered thing. My comments have been based on the four books only. Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (32 of 152), Read 42 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 02:59 PM Dick, I hope you join us for Nicholson Baker's 'U and I'. Dale has suggested it as our Updike dessert. I ended up having to order U and I. The library did not have it. The used bookstore didn't have it and neither did Barnes and Nobles. As far as my susceptibility to Rabbit's charisma goes, I'm not entirely sure if its him or Updike I really like. Somehow they've become interwoven in my feelings. Yes, its Harry. Of course it is, but its Updike's writing, too. I'm a sucker for pretty words. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (33 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 03:02 PM I'm starting to like Nelson, too, Ruth. In fact, I can see some of his father's charm there. What is it about Harry Angstrom that bothers some of you? I can see where some of his choices were simply awful, but isn't this just an exaggeration of all of us and our faults as humans? To me, Updike wrote these books as a way of making us laugh and groan and shake our heads at ourselves. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (34 of 152), Read 51 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 03:51 PM I hate guys who never think, I detest guys who only think of women as cunts, I can't stand guys who live on their past athletic glory, I don't even like them much DURING their athletic glory, I abhor the false joviality (how 'bout them Dodgers?) which covers up the inability to communicate at even a basic level. Will that do? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. " John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (35 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 03:57 PM I'm far from starting to like Nelson in this sequel, but I will admit that my fond desire to, in Steve's timeless words, "beat him like a mule," has been tempered by maybe, oh, 5 to 10 percent. It's a start. Beej: I agree, about Updike's wizardry not only in use of language but in tapping the full universality of Rabbit's character, loveable or not. I'm reminded of the famous interview in which Gustave Flaubert was asked if there were any "real" people that he had based Emma Bovary on. He shrugged and said, "Madame Bovary, c'est moi." Something tells me Updike feels the same way about Harry. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (36 of 152), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:08 PM If Harry is not Updike's alter ego, I'm sure they have experiences in common. That business with the heart attack, angioplasty and stuff sounded absolutely authentic. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. " John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (37 of 152), Read 56 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:12 PM Ruth, I guess I read more into Harry than is there, because I saw beyond that. I don't really think he saw women that way, and only that way. I just took it he was thinking typical male sexual thoughts. Wasn't a lot of what we read his thoughts? my take was that Harry adored women. But maybe not. Maybe I'm totally wrong. Ad if I am wrong, then I am also deeply disappointed. Dale..Do you think Updike would say c'est moi? Do you think Updike considered Harry likeable? As an author yourself, do you think this author, Updike, liked his own character? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (38 of 152), Read 58 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:13 PM Ruthie, I laughed and laughed upon reading your penultimate. I loved it! Yes, Ruthie, you have made your sentiments very clear. I can't think of a single additional question that I myself have for you. That will indeed do very nicely as far as I'm concerned. Does anyone else have any more questions for Ruthie on this issue? Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (39 of 152), Read 57 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:14 PM Well, I guess Beej does have one more question. (I'm still laughing.) Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (40 of 152), Read 60 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:17 PM I have never known when or how to keep my big mouth shut. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (41 of 152), Read 57 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:23 PM Heehee, Steve. But I LOVE brainy, witty guys who make me laugh. Beej, I think it was Harry's inability to get beyond those "typical male sexual thoughts," which bugged me. He didn't even seem to know there WAS a beyond. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. " John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (42 of 152), Read 55 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:26 PM (Why do I do this to myself? Why?) Ruth, do you think Harry had any feelings for any of these women outside of his wife? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (43 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:31 PM Ruth, I really am listening to you. Honestly, I am..I guess he really wasn't the brightest cookie in the box. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (44 of 152), Read 60 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:33 PM Aw, don't feel bad, Beej. I think you do make a valid point in one respect. That has to do with the word "cunt." I cannot think of an English word that is more loaded than that one. I believe this is because when men employ that word with the inflection I usually hear, there certainly is an implication that a woman is simply an appendage of her sexual organs. Men employ that word when they feel embattled by a woman or women for reasons they instinctively feel are somehow related directly or indirectly to gender. In Rabbit's case I do not remember any instance where he spoke the word. In every instance that I remember, it appeared as part of Rabbit's thoughts. So I think you are right in this case. Nonetheless, that probably does not make a whit of difference insofar as Ruthie's feelings are concerned. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (45 of 152), Read 51 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:46 PM Oh, I don't feel bad. I'm just sitting here after reading Ruth's post (and I have to say, I respect what Ruth has to say to the Nth degree, always) and now I can't figure out why I liked Harry at all. Maybe its because he made me laugh. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (46 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:54 PM He didn't use the word in conversation, Steve, because his mommy taught him to be polite. But he thought it. And he had a hard time getting beyond that point. Even though I think perhaps he wanted to, he hadn't a clue how to relate to women on any other level. Harry's View of Women I feel sorry for him, not just because of the women thing (which robbed him of the much more meaningful relationships he could have had), but also because I think in some ways he was aware of the limitations of his life. At least he had glimpses of another way of being. But he didn't know how to do it. His story is a tragedy, in the classic use of the word. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. " John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (47 of 152), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 04:59 PM Yes, a real tragedy, and perhaps not so much Rabbit's fault as the fault of the times and the milieux in which he lived. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. " John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (48 of 152), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:02 PM Ruth, Steve had mentioned earlier that he thought Updike's writing wasn't up to par in this book. What do you think? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (49 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:05 PM Ruth said: perhaps not so much Rabbit's fault as the fault of the times and the milieux in which he lived. I agree with you, for what its worth. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (50 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:16 PM I thought the writing was great in this one. Redux is where I felt it fell down. Bear in mind, my assessment of Rabbit is necessarily colored by the fact that I was married for 16 years to one of his cousins. All this stuff hits close to home in many ways, reminds me of stuff I'd rather forget. Maybe that's why I don't find it as funny as you do, Beej. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies. " John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (51 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:19 PM Oh and Beej, I have a little trouble in that keeping-my-mouth shut department, too. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (52 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:24 PM But Ruth! Thats exactly what I like about you! Your ex was like this? No. It would be far from funny, then. Redux was the worst written of all of them, I agree. I think Rabbit At Rest was brilliantly written, as well as Rabbit, Run. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (53 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 05:53 PM Ruth: I thought your earlier note on Rabbit's many shortcomings was an articulately potent missive. (All these years, I've been hoping you would come out of your shell of reticence and let us know what you really think about stuff...{G}) In fact, it made me envision Harry himself during that last devastating encounter at the home of the fictional Ruth. Now, I picture him being given a choice between the fictional Ruth and the real (CR) Ruth and wisely deciding to choose the former--i.e. taking his french-fried marbles (and cojones) and slinking home. Go, Ruth! Keep on keeping on, etc. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (54 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 06:49 PM I agree..who wants a big Rabbit gush fest? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (55 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 06:53 PM Hey, it's possible to love the books, without being in love with the protagonist. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (56 of 152), Read 50 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 06:57 PM Did Nelson know Annabelle was his sister when they met years ago at that party? He doesn't seem surprised at all when they meet for lunch. Ruth, thats true...some of the best characters in books are the ones we really don't like at all. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (57 of 152), Read 48 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 07:00 PM I didn't see any indication that he did. I was surprised he remembered the meeting. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (58 of 152), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 07:03 PM I know! And he just casually mentioned it.. You and I met, by the way, twenty or so years ago. It was as if he had no emotions about it whatsoever. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (59 of 152), Read 58 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 07:05 PM And, Ruth, he even remembers her boyfriend's name at the time. That doesn't ring realistic, does it? Btw,,when I said that about the Rabbit gush fest, I meant the character, not the Rabbit books..it would be a pretty boring discussion if we all just agreed on everything.. and I think this discussion is the best one since I've been part of Constant Reader. This has been just an absolute delight for me. I am relatively new to Updike and I feel as if I've unwrapped a big present. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (60 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 09:26 PM This has been fun, hasn't it? Where else could you find several people to wallow in so much Rabbitomania over the course of a week? I've read Separating before. But now I'm into the rest of the stories in Remembered. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (61 of 152), Read 58 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:12 PM Ruth, This entire Rabbit thing has been an absolute joy. I have a feeling there will be several of us discussing Updike stories for a long, long time. I think one of the reasons Harry affected me so deeply is because he got all the blame for that baby drowning. After that, it seemed no matter what he did, or what Janice did, it always seemed to crash back down on Harry. But there was more to my feelings for him than that. I simply just liked the guy. I don't know why, exactly, but he definitely endeared himself to me. I am so looking forward to reading and discussing U and I. I want to read about somebody else having this addiction to Updike. Rabbitmania..do you realize we have amassed nearly 600 posts? Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (62 of 152), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 10:56 PM I've been having a ball, too. Our library doesn't have U and I, either. I've got to locate a copy. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (63 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Thursday, June 07, 2001 11:48 PM I finally managed to find a copy of Licks of Love in this terminally deficient town. By the time you all locate a copy of U and I, I should be caught up. Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (64 of 152), Read 51 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 09:53 AM Fascinating painting, Ruthie. And what an eerie feeling this morning when I logged in here and stumbled upon it! A dead ringer for a woman I met at Mahoney's Pub last evening. The old Nelson surfaces here. His tirade in the car is a vintage combination of whining and maliciousness. Beej, I intended in my remarks about this writing to say that there are not as many of those beautiful little phrases that capture so much. It just didn't quite have the same zip as the earlier writing. Even at that, it's several cuts above what we commonly read. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (65 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 10:16 AM Oh, Ruthie, I keep intending to mention something that you probably already know. Updike is an art freak. In fact he studied art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford with the intention of being one. He has written a couple of books and many essays on art. Something in that area might be fun to look into some time in the future. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (66 of 152), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 10:40 AM I guess I do not have a very realistic outlook on either Rabbit or Nelson because I didn't think his tirade in the car was malicious. I thought he was trying to help Annabelle. Maybe I need to remove these rose colored glasses. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (67 of 152), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 11:12 AM I knew he'd gone to art school, Steve, but I didn't know he'd written a book about art. I shall have to look it up. Do you have the title hiding in a graycell cabinet? Tirade? Oh you mean the Inquisition? I thought that was a gratuitous power play. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (68 of 152), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 11:18 AM Here's one, called Just Looking, a collection of essays: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0878465774/ref=ase_constantreader/104-7847608-4521539 David
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (69 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 12:06 PM I've re-read that section containing Nelson's tirade, and I'm not sure what to make of it. Somehow, I think its tied in with Michael DiLorenzo's suicide. The vindictiveness, to me, is in Nelson's broaching this subject in front of others. I'm not sure I like Annabelle, to be honest. She bothered me a great deal. And what is it with Harry's presence in this car? On a lighter note, I'll tell you I almost rolled on the floor laughing when I read they accidently left Harry's ashes on the closet shelf at the Comfort Inn! I was crying from laughing! (fortunately, my family is accustomed to this sort of behavior from me). The first night in a hotel on the trip back to PA, they propped him on top of the tv like a knick knack! All I could think of was that crystal egg Harry continuously had the urge to bop Janice over the head with, and now he's just another knick knack like that egg, himself! I'll bet you anything Janice considered putting him on a shelf next to that egg! Can't you just picture that! The second night they leave him on a closet shelf and drive away without him!! hahahahhaaaa!!!!!!! It was Judy who actually remembered grandpa in the closet and I can just picture Nelson flooring the accelerator to get back and retrieve poor Harry! I thought this was one of the best parts of the book. God, I loved these books. I also have no doubts that Updike will continue with the story of Nelson and Pru. in fact, I see this novella as a perfectly wonderful bridge between the Rabbit books and stories about Nelson...a continuation, just like life. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (70 of 152), Read 36 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 12:27 PM I hadn't thought of tying it in with the suicide. That could definitely be. Don't you think there was also something of Nelson's trying to establish himself as more powerful than Annabelle? So far A has seemed pretty impervious. Maybe he needed to establish himself on top of the heap. He's used to being on top of all those poor creeps he works with. He needs to show himself that he's got it together now. Which, of course, is evidence that he doesn't. Thanks for the link, David. I'll pop right over there. What would we do without our Resident Researcher? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (71 of 152), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 12:30 PM I think counselling was to Nelson what basketball was to Harry, in Nelson's mind, that is. But then, Nelson felt he failed and Annabelle was such a victim. He was in a rotten mood, and her false, sugary wholesomeness irritated him. So he pissed in her bowl of cornflakes. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (72 of 152), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 12:47 PM David, I just hopped over to that great bookstore in the sky and ordered the collection of Updike essays on art, plus U and I. Beej,I'm sure that's an aspect of how Nelson feels about counseling. I also think that it's his way of maintaining his slim hold on normality. What better way than by the constant reinforcement of working with these people who are much worse off than he is? At the center, he feels strong. I think A challenges that feeling because she seems so contained, so calm, so much of herself. And no, I don't like her very much either. Have you heard anything about Updike's continuing the Angstrom family saga? It would be fun, wouldn't it? I'd particularly like to know what happens with little Judy. I'm not surprised she's a handful now. She was exposed to a lot of stuff no little kid should be exposed to. Even that movie that loving Grandma and Grandpa took her to. A nude sex scene for an 8 year old? (And they only took Roy out because he was bored.)Where in hell were their heads? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (73 of 152), Read 27 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 01:35 PM Updike's art criticism appears frequently in The New York Review of Books. pres
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (74 of 152), Read 29 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 01:37 PM And I have a feeling it must appear occasionally in the NYer. Funny, I have no remembrance of seeing it there, tho. Brain rot, I guess Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (75 of 152), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 02:01 PM I cackled over the ashes-at-the-motel scene, too. An absolutely perfect turn of events. Plus, what a delicious Clinton argument at Thanksgiving dinner. Once Hillary was mentioned and Nelson's ears perked up, I knew we were in for a stem-winder. And though RABBIT REMEMBERED may not have the high percentage of language gold-nuggets its predecessors had, it's certainly no slouch in that regard... Nelson wonders why, no matter how cheerful and blameless the day's activities have been, when you wake in the middle of the night there is guilt in the air, a gnawing feeling of everything being slightly off, wrong--you in the wrong, and the world too, as if darkness is a kind of light that shows us the depth we are about to fall into... And, But it may be that his ear is jaded, hearing all day about families, dealing with all the variations of dependency and resentment, love and its opposite, all the sickly inturned can't-get-away-from-itness of close relations. If society is the prison, families are the cells, with no time off for good behavior. Good behavior in fact tends to lengthen the sentence. (So that's why Harry died young. He wasn't on good behavior.{G}) And of the DiLorenzo couple in counseling: "What we need," her husband amplifies, rising with her, sighing through his nose, "is peace. And a vacation. And it doesn't look as though we're going to get any. Ever." Like jellyfish changing shimmering shape in the water, their faces have gone from fear for their son to fear of him, of the toll he will take. Gosh, what good stuff. I was dubious about a book with Nelson as the central character, but even with Rabbit gone, this reality is so real that I would definitely read another series. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (76 of 152), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 02:32 PM Dale, What is your impression of Nelson now? I think he's really come far, despite the scene in the car. And what about that Thanksgiving business between Annabelle and Ronnie! What an ass! I loved how Nelson defended his dad to Ronnie: You couldn't stand it, could you?..My father beating you out every time. Every time you went up against him, he beat you out. That's how he was, Ronnie. A winner. You, you're a loser. Ronnie then makes a reference to the house as his house..and Janice, filled with resentment towards his possession of what was hers, then realizes he married her as 'a kind of revenge on Harry.' Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (77 of 152), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 03:14 PM Yes, the child who detested and berated his father when he was alive now remembers him fondly as a winner. That's true so often, isn't it? A bit more about U and I so that folks can decide whether they might be interested. It is a relatively short one and is not some dry book of literary criticism or analysis. Rather, Nicholson Baker explores his own long obsession with Updike. For example, in one section he undertakes a drill to compare his own recollection of certain of his favorite Updike phrases with the actuality. He records as best he can from memory an Updike quotation. Then he looks it up to see how close he came, and discusses the differences. This sounds kinda weird, but it really is quite entertaining. He also tells the story of his first seeing the man in the flesh, an experience I just had a couple of months ago. Nicholson Baker is clearly an obsessive type, and he has turned this trait to his advantage in this and other books. I do recommend it. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (78 of 152), Read 42 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 03:20 PM I thought it was fiction. Guess not. Shows how much I know.. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (79 of 152), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 03:34 PM Beej: I think U & I technically is classified as a novel, but the "U" is clearly Updike and the "I" is clearly Baker at his obsessive, polymath, funny, loveable best. I'm very near the end of RABBIT REMEMBERED, and I would have bet money against my feelings about Nelson ever changing to the degree they have. It reminds me of Steve's insightful comment a few days ago about Updike apparently setting near-impossible challenges for himself and then seeing if he can pull them off. He's still on a roll here, I think. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (80 of 152), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 05:39 PM Question: Do any of us know of any Rabbit dramatizations - movies, plays, TV shows ? If not, why not ? pres
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (81 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 05:57 PM The ashes at the motel. Yes! That was absolutely hilarious. Dale that guilt in the air in the night paragraph rang my bell, too. At 3 a.m., I am the only person in the world, and the world doesn't give a damn, because I'm wrong. And the DiLorenzo scene hit me, too. I have a friend with a schizophrenic son. This is so accurate it's scary. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (82 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 06:04 PM And no, Pres, I don't remember a movie. Does anyone else? Seems to me it'd be a natural. Although with Updike's luminous language removed, and Hollywood involved, it'd probably sink under the weight of the soapoperatics. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (83 of 152), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 06:39 PM Oh, lookie-see what I just found!: UPDIKE WORKS MADE INTO FILMS OR VIDEOS "Rabbit, Run." Directed by Jack Smight. With James Caan, Anjanette Comer, Jack Albertson, Arthur Hill, and Carrie Snodgrass. Warner Brothers-Seven Arts, 1970. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (84 of 152), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 06:58 PM As is usual with Updike, he hints at things yet to be uncovered, and I should have seen more in this line than I did when I first read it.. This is an observation Nelson made of Annabelle at that second lunch: her innocence feels learned, a layer. Hind sight is twenty twenty, all through this book and now I want to go back to 'Rabbit at Rest' and see if there is any hint in there, during Ruth's and Harry's meeting, that Ruth knew her husband was playing touchy-feely with Annabelle. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (85 of 152), Read 38 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 07:59 PM I wasn't happy about Updike's bringing in the touchy-feely. This seems to be the Disease of the Decade. Sure it's rotten, but I am so damn tired of its being trotted out to explain every disfunctional adult, to be the centerpiece of every autobiography. Updike can do better. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (86 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 08:04 PM Funny how things go in cycles, isn't it? Remember when every girl had anorexia? I'm surprised Judy wasn't anorexic. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (87 of 152), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 08:07 PM What do you think of James Caan cast as Rabbit? I'm presuming, of course, that's the role he had in the movie. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (88 of 152), Read 31 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 09:15 PM Beej, me love, I have no idea who James Caan is. I've been reading the rest of the stories In Licks of Love. One of the things that strikes me about Updike's writing is how absolutely authentic he sounds. When he writes in the first person, you'd swear it was autobiography. The details of life are so solid, so, well,lifelike. Like on the trip home with Rabbits ashes, little Judy crying because she didn't want Grandpa out in the car trunk in the dark and the cold. Just exactly like a child. It always makes me wonder, DID this actually happen and Updike borrowed the incident? And if it didn't, how the hell does he think of this stuff? And the towns are so real, with their streets and street trees, and stores with a changing succession of businesses over the years. He had to have made a map of Brewer and its buildings and streets. He had me so convinced I even went to MapQuest to see if it exists. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (89 of 152), Read 30 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 09:46 PM Your name is 'Bavetta' and you never watched the original Godfather? Caan was Sonny Corleone in that movie -- a surprisingly good choice, in my opinion. Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (90 of 152), Read 28 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 11:16 PM I did see The Godfather, Dick. But damned if I remember who was in it, except for that Marlon guy with the cheek pads. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (91 of 152), Read 36 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 12:09 PM I don't want to sound like a grumpy old fart, Beej. (I am, but I don't want to sound like one.) I'm right with Ruthie on this thing. Gawd, what an awful film that must have been! I do note that Carrie Snodgrass played the part of Janice, which is interesting. She was a helluvan actor in the very early seventies who chucked it all and ran off with Neil Young to have his babies. Generally, I have been so appalled by film versions of my favorite novels in the past that I avoid them now and have for some years. I've never seen the film version of Catch-22, for example. I successfully avoided The English Patient until I ended up watching a chunk of it on video over someone else's shoulder. Ralph Feinnes sucked, a twink cast in the role of a macho. But then, here's a twit who's so pretentious that he asks us to pronounce Ralph as "Rafe." Christ! I don't even enjoy the game of mentally casting a novel anymore. These art forms bear no relationship to each other whatsoever. Film people should be prohibited from buying the rights to novels and instead required to use only original screenplays. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (92 of 152), Read 38 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 01:30 PM Heaven's sake!..I don't mind if you sound like a grumpy old fart! I was just answering Pres' question. I have difficulty sitting through movies. I rarely watch movies, novel adaptations or not. I don't even know half of today's actors, to be honest! But, I do know who James Caan is and he definitely does not fit MY mental image of Rabbit! I've read some of the stories in Licks of Love too, Ruth. man alive, this guy can write! And, what a sense of humor! I won't be able to get a copy of U and I until Monday or Tuesday. Patience is just not one of my strong suits, so this is just about killing me... Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (93 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 01:34 PM Gosh, I am so happy to have returned to Nicholson Baker! The guy is outrageous and hilarious for those of us with a sense of humor vulnerable to his shamelessness. Again for members of the assembled who do not know whether or not they might be interested in the book, in his first chapter of U and I, Baker describes how he came to write the essay that led to the book. He had been reading Henry James’ account of Emerson’s funeral wherein James describes the throng of common folk who attended. There follows this rich paragraph. It’s long, but it’s worth it. Immediately I tried to picture what sort of “popular manifestation” there would be at Updike’s funeral. Would the frumpy gathering of professional scribes be swelled by the modern equivalents of countryfolk: that is, secretaries, books-on-tape commuters, subscribers to the Franklin Library, members of Quality Paperback Book Club? The notion of all those thoughtful, likable, furrowed, middlebrow brows lowered in sadness seemed momentarily strange, after all of Updike’s lively and shocking and un-Emersonian writing about nakedness, fucking in piles of laundry, pubic hair like seaweed, dirty Polaroids, his next-door-neighbor’s pussy, and the rest—but then it seemed absolutely right. Updike was the first to take the penile sensorium under the wing of elaborate metaphorical prose. Once the sensation of the interior of a vagina has been compared to a ballet slipper (if my memory doesn’t distort that unlocatable simile) the sexual revolution is complete: just as Emerson made the Oversoul, the luminous timeless sphere of pure thought, available to the earnest lecture-going farm worker, so Updike made the reader’s solitary paperback-inspired convulsion an untrashy, cultivated attainment. (I myself have never successfully masturbated to Updike’s writing, though I have to certain remembered scenes in Iris Murdoch, but someone I know says that she achieved a number of quality orgasms from Couples when she first read it at age thirteen.) In grieving for Updike, the somber predominantly female citizens would be grieving for their own youthful sexual pasts, whose hard-core cavortings were now insulated by wools and goose downs of period charm, vague remorse, fuzzy remembrance, spousal forgiveness, and an overall sense of imperfect attempts at cutting loose; they would be mourning the man who, by bringing a serious, Prousto-Nabokovian, morally sensitive, National-Book-Award-winning prose style to bear on the micromechanics of physical lovemaking, first licensed their own moans. But the concrete visual image of mourners in contemporary dress gathered around a real grave was too powerful and distasteful to contemplate for more than an instant; recoiling, I thought, But if he dies, he won’t know how I feel about him, and was horrified. That night I wrote inside the back cover of the Henry James paperpack I’d been reading, “Make Updike thing into long essay,” and the next day, trembling, I called the editor of The Atlantic to proposed it to him. How funny and delightful! But it may only be funny and delightful to someone who grew up reading Updike and continued with him through every phase of his or her life. This did give me another idea though. Given the Constant Readers' (somewhat lamentable in my opinion) penchant for list-making, I considered starting a topic titled “The Last Five Books I Masturbated To.” Then I discarded the idea. It’s been so long that I can’t remember. I couldn’t make any initial list of my own. I’ll have to think about that some more. Maybe the titles of those books will come to me. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (94 of 152), Read 57 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 01:42 PM well,,hmm.. I have a book of lists Time/Warner put out. I just looked. This is not the subject of any of their lists. I think we should write to them! I'm very curious about this ballet slipper comparison.. I wonder just who did the comparison! But, I suppose, anything goes for an honest day's work, as long as its not MY foot going in it next! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (95 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 01:55 PM I can't tell you which Updike character made that comparison, Beej. Out of context it does seem inapropos. However, in context (and I don't know how we could find it if Baker couldn't) it was undoubtedly perfect. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (96 of 152), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 02:04 PM Oh, I'm sure it is! I'm just sitting here getting antsier to read it. My sense of humor is about as vulnerable to this shamelessness as it can be. That's hardly a secret. I've only read one other novel by Baker (I'm not saying which one) and I can see where he would love Updike. I wonder what Updike thought of U and I.. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (97 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 02:39 PM Steve: What a fantastic paragraph from Baker. I can't help thinking Updike must have been touched by reading something at once so worshipful and outrageously funny. I really think it's Updike's type of book. Baker returns to the sex theme near the end of U & I: A person like Updike, who can be as tarabiscote as George Saintsbury or Henry James, as foxily ironical as Lytton Strachey, as stylistically up to snuff as Pater, as metaphorically mother-witted as Proust, as zealously thematic as Melville, and who is thus in the same league at least with the bachelor-adepts of history, becomes supremely important to a writer like me, as a model of a man who has in his art successfully moved outside the limitations of his carnal circuitry. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd, is it not? I had to look up tarabiscote: from French it translates literally as "to groove." Amazing. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (98 of 152), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 03:18 PM Dale, you saved me a trip to my dictionary! I can't STAND the fact that I am not able to get this book for a few more days! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (99 of 152), Read 42 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 03:45 PM Beej: Not to worry. No rush at all. Stuff that's this good will keep. In the meantime, there's the Updike story "Separating." I came to this one in a weird way, hearing it on audio before I had read it. I was going on a long business trip a few years ago and raided the local library for books on tape; one of them was SELECTED STORIES of Updike, read by the author. His voice, while not unpleasant, was somehow not what I expected and it took me a while to get acclimated to it. Once I did, I found him a very effective reader. "Separating" was the last story on the tape, as I recall, and he was really hitting his stride. By the conclusion of this one, I had to pull off the road until I could stop crying and collect myself. I have a congenitally low tolerance for sentiment in fiction and movies, but this story bowled me over. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was less than a year over a divorce of my own--this time without kids involved, thank goodness--but still. Every detail in it is so, so real. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (100 of 152), Read 43 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:19 PM You bring up a sore subject for me, Dale, a sore subject because it relates to my inability to respond on the spur of the moment. I have often wondered about Updike's reaction to U and I. I know of no written response by him or even a written acknowledgment that this book exists. It may be out there, but I haven't run across it. When I saw him speak, there was the obligatory question and answer session. Oh, why didn't I have my wits about me enough to ask him about this? Damn it! Anyway, I just finished the section where Baker adverts to my own very favorite Updike quote. He apparently had been asked about some especially racy, sex-laden poetry in a particular collection. The question was along the lines of whether he himself didn't think that perhaps he had stepped outside the boundaries of good taste. Updike responded: I think taste is a social concept and not an artistic one. I'm willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else's living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another's brain in silence and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (101 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:11 PM Dale, Can you explain this line to me? 'a man who has in his art successfully moved outside the limitations of his carnal circuitry.' Does this mean that Updike was the first author, or one of the first authors, who wrote novels containing graphic sexual content that were still considered literary greats? I'm thinking of DH Lawrence, here, and how scandalous his books, especially Lady Chatterley's Lover were regarded. (Wasn't LCL banned? but wasn't there another fine writer, whose books were banned, since LCL?) My point is, it seems to me that Updike, as a relatively new author, was quite daring and challenging to the literary world, if he was the protagonist for this sort of thing. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (102 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:17 PM Boy, I hope my last post made sense, because I really want to know the answer to that question! Dale, I remember when I read Separating that it left me emotionally drained. Have you read How Was It, Really?.. I read this last night, and there were a couple lines in there that just tickled me.. (I'd post them here but I think some folks might get offended..) Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (103 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:30 PM Okay, I have no problem writing three posts in succession..:-) What I'm trying to get at with that post up there a bit, is that I think Updike might not have really cared about best sellers or whether he would be accepted in the literary world. I think he had a bit of Rabbit in him in this regard. And to have that kind of confidence as a writer, to write what feels should be written, without thought to acceptance, or to his success as a novelist, just makes me want to find this man and plant a big smooch on his cheek. I just can't tell you how much I love that kind of daring-do. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (104 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:31 PM You are impatient, Beej! When you get your hands on the book and get to that passage, you won't have any trouble understanding what Baker is saying. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (105 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:32 PM Patience is not my strongest virtue, no. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (106 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:36 PM As I've said so many times before, Beej--and you may wish to write this down--our greatest strengths are also, simultaneously our greatest weaknesses and conversely, too. Don't be too hard on yourself regarding this impatience thing. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (107 of 152), Read 46 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:41 PM Does this mean y'all are going to make me sit and wait for an answer to my question? Where's Ruth? She wouldn't make me sit and wait! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (108 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:42 PM Dale, anything carnal sounds great to me! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (109 of 152), Read 49 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:46 PM Let me explain what I meant by that.. hahaha!!!!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~ I meant it sort of makes my ears perk up..its just one of those words.. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (110 of 152), Read 51 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:46 PM Steve: Another great Updike quote, this one on "good taste". I'm not only going to steal that one, I'm going to post it on the Writer's Tool Kit website. Beej: I'm not sure what Baker is getting at with "carnal circuitry," but it sure sounds good, doesn't it? {G} Seriously, though...I now realize I've taken that quote out of context, because it comes after a couple of previous pages where Baker argues the invigorating concept that the greatest achievements in the form of the novel over the past century or so have been those of (a)women and (b)homosexuals. Here's what Baker writes, leading up to the section I posted: We begin to get the uncomfortable sense, if we aren't gay or female, that we may have chosen a field we can't quite master. Heterosexual male novelists don't for the most part really get it, instinctively: they agree with Jane Austen that the novel is a magnificent thing, toward whose comprehension all other forms of writing, and indeed of art, aspire, and this big-time grandeur attracts them, but they find, much to their perplexity, that they can't internalize and refine upon its ways with quite the unstraining unconscious directness they displayed when thrashing happily through earlier intellectual challenges. At first they blame their false starts and archness on their inexperience and continuing apprenticeship, and they redouble their efforts, but little by little they come to see, at first dispiritedly and then soon righteously, that they "stand outside the tradition"--that it is in a fundamental way alien to them. But they are smart, and ambitious, and hardworking, some of them, and they find that they can bleed off and redirect some of their other proficiencies in order artificially to bulk up the central novelistic understanding they want so badly and don't innately possess. They stretch the stretchiest of all forms so that it embraces what they do well. And finally they produce things that are, though great, oddities: Ulysses, War and Peace, Pnin. In a field, then, in which heterosexuals end up so often on the periphery--as the legal counsel, drunken reviewers, imitative followers, codifiers, interpeters, academic apologists--for homosexual greatness, a person like Updike, who can be as tarabiscote as George Saintsbury or Henry James, as foxily ironical as Lytton Strachey, as stylistically up to snuff as Pater, as metaphorically mother-witted as Proust, as zealously thematic as Melville, and who is thus in the same league at least with the bachelor-adepts of history, becomes supremely important to a writer like me, as a model of a man who has in his art successfully moved outside the limitations of his carnal circuitry. Holy moly! What would it be like to live inside Baker's brain, I wonder? Or to live with Baker, for that matter.{G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (111 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:46 PM There you go, Beej. Dale put it in context for us. "Bachelor-adepts" seems to me a marvelously inventive euphemism for talented homosexual male writers. Maybe he stole it from someone, but it sounds too Nicholson Bakerish to me. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (112 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:49 PM Gosh! I got so excitable there, I posted out of order! Please, forgive me!!!! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (113 of 152), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:55 PM Dale, I just reread your last Baker quote...how absolutely and incredibly fascinating. In a way, Baker's mind has that same labyrinthine quality as Umberto Eco's. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (114 of 152), Read 53 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:56 PM Dale, that's a fascinating position for Baker to take regarding female writers and homosexual male writers. I had forgotten that. Again, thank goodness I have been hornswoggled into returning to this book! Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (115 of 152), Read 54 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 04:58 PM Both Beej and I used the word "fascinating." That must mean that it's fascinating. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (116 of 152), Read 40 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 06:22 PM The quote from Updike about taste bowls me over: it is so right, so rightly put. Note also the implicit message, anything human, anything humanly imaginable, is fair game for the novelist. You are at liberty to discuss the novelist's taste, which means, of course, discuss your taste. pres
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (117 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 06:37 PM 'Note also the implicit message, anything human, anything humanly imaginable, is fair game for the novelist.' Do you think this stands true for a novelist whose books are poorly written? Or only for those who are on the level of Updike? I think running the gamut of human capabilities in a novel might be totally acceptable only if it has literary worth to begin with. it seems to me it could otherwise be pure trash. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (118 of 152), Read 40 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 06:58 PM I'm going to swing this over to the left..I've never done this before...this should be interesting! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (119 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:01 PM Glad you like that quotation, pres. As I said, it has been my favorite from Updike for a long time. Therefore, one would think that I would understand that taste is a social concept, and since this is a social forum and not an artistic one, I might employ good taste here a little more consistently. It's just that I get to having so darned much fun that I lose my social moorings. Now, those of you that have read the short story "Separating," is this the one featuring Dick and Joan Maple originally from the collection Too Far to Go? If so, I know exactly the story you are talking about. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (120 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:05 PM Yep..that's them. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (121 of 152), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:00 PM I did it! I'm so proud of myself! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (122 of 152), Read 33 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:48 PM The parallels between Dick and Joan Maple and Updike and his first wife make it quite apparent that he is drawing on that experience. (Updike and his first wife were married for 21 years just as Dick and Joan were, etc., etc.) There are a whole series of short stories featuring Dick and Joan Maple collected in that edition I mentioned. They are too painful for me to read again right now. My own favorite collection of short stories is Trust Me. Sara Sauers owns Women and Museums, and I like that collection an awfully lot, too. It just so happens that while I was fooling around here in Sara's condo this afternoon drinking her gin and tonic, monitoring this topic, scratching myself, and firing up the grill while she was out on errands, "Selected Shorts" on NPR came on the radio late in the afternoon. And what do you know? The actor Barbara Feldon read "A Constellation of Events" by Updike from Trust Me. I was in hog heaven! Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (123 of 152), Read 32 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:50 PM Hooray for you. Migawd, I'm gone most of the day and come back to 40 Rabbit posts. And full of so much juicy material and food for thought that I can't begin to respond to it all. Or certainly not until I've had a G&T and dinner (out, I hope). Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (124 of 152), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:54 PM You're a G&T person, too, Ruthie? I guess I didn't know that. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (125 of 152), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 07:57 PM That hooray was for Beej's accomplishment in her left swing. G & T is summer, Steve. I prefer to take them sitting on the shady side of the cabin deck with my feet up on the railing, watching the shadows lengthen and the pine trees grow. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (126 of 152), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 08:05 PM G&T is definitely summer, Ruthie. Couldn't agree more with your observations. I never touch 'em otherwise. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (127 of 152), Read 52 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 09, 2001 08:10 PM Thanks for the hooray, Ruth..Now and then I do something right.. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (128 of 152), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 10:22 AM Just to return, briefly, to Rabbit Remembered (this is my first time through it), I found this description of Rabbit, from conversation between Annabelle and Janice, to be interesting and illuminating: "He [Rabbit] seemed so nice, I was struck. He paid attention to me, he didn't just talk to the man, or try to pressure us the way car salesmen like to." "It wasn't exactly his calling, selling," Janice volunteered. "He really didn't have a calling, after high school." But how beautiful he had been, Janice remembers, in those high school halls -- the height of him, the fine Viking hair slicked back in a ducktail but trailing off in lank sexy strands like Alan Ladd's across his forehead, the he would flick it back with his big graceful white hands while kidding with the other seniors, like that tall girlfriend of his called Mary Ann, his lids at cocky sleepy half-mast, the world of those halls his, him paying no attention of course to her a ninth-grader, a runt." Most families have running jokes or stories that are short-hand for myths that are important to the family. And, my family has such a joke, which this sad little quote about Rabbit brings to mind. It's from an old Saturday Evening Post cartoon, and in it a middle-aged man poses proudly beside a fireplace, wearing a three-sizes too small vest sweater with the words "Kansas State Marble Champion, Class AA, 1937" on the chest. At his elbow on the mantle sits a tiny loving cup similarly emblazoned. On a couch in front of the fireplace the man's wife is talking with a friend: "John's star rose and fell early in life," she explains to the friend. In the Haggart family this cartoon has, for about 50 years, been emblematic of many important themes (or at least themes deemed important to a bunch of sober, well-considered Methodists): the need for children and teen-agers to be sensibly restrained from too-rapid and deep experiencing of life ("save something for later"), the importance of behaving responsibly as an adult ("after all you have a wife and children") and, of course, the need to accept the approach of old age both with dignity and appropriate dress ("There's nothing worse than some old lady trying to look younger"). And, if you were to read the quoted Updike passage to any member of my family, they would immediately identify the central problem in the Rabbit novels, "Rabbit's star rose and fell early in life, didn't it?" Dick In The 21st Century
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (129 of 152), Read 42 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 11:17 AM I felt a little chagrined on reading "Just to return, briefly, to Rabbit Remembered. . . . ," Dick, what with my having wandered off into Nicholson Baker here. Rabbit Remembered is the subject at hand after all. Let's return to it more than briefly. I can't help but speculate on Updike's motivation for writing this short piece. Perhaps he simply wished to revisit some characters of whom he was proud. I think though that he also wished to comment further on Rabbit himself. "Rabbit" has become a short hand way of referring to WASP male attitudes and life-styles in late Twentieth Century America just as Sinclair Lewis's "Babbit" is the same for the early Twentieth Century version. So much has been written about Rabbit. I really do think that Updike himself wanted to get a few licks in via reminiscences of the characters in this novella. And what is he saying? At the risk of repeating myself: I don't think it is enough to simply say that Rabbit's flame burned too brightly too early and then went out. Rabbit causes me to contemplate the multitudes who never experience any sort of real triumph at ANY point in their lives. For these folks Rabbit is an object of envy not of pity. (Ronnie Harrison comes first and foremost to mind here.) This speech that you quote again makes the point that Rabbit's early triumph did not simply evaporate. Rather, it marked him in a way that endured through the mediocre (at best) accomplishment of the rest of his life. He continued self-confident in his relations and exuded that "glow" to which Thelma referred. It is far better to have been the 1937 Kansas State Marble Champ than never to have been a champ at all. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (130 of 152), Read 45 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 11:24 AM I'm glad you brought up Babbit, Steve. Ever since I reembarked on Rabbit's journey, Babbit has been rolling around in the back of my mind---the parallels, the similarities, the dissimilarities, etc. And what of echoing names? I cannot help but think that this was purposeful on Updikes part. Has he ever commented on this, do you know? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (131 of 152), Read 47 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 11:45 AM I don't think he has, Ruthie, but Rabbit and Babbit cannot just be a coincidence, can it? Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (132 of 152), Read 35 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 01:19 PM I wouldn't think so, Steve. And there's just so much in Rabbit, and in Brewer that makes me think of Babbit, and, oh what the heck was the name of his town, Center City? No that doesn't sound right. Help me, I have brain termites. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (133 of 152), Read 36 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 01:29 PM Zenith, Ruthie. (You may have been trying to think of the town in Main Street.) And, duh! I forgot that there is a quotation from Babbit near the beginning of Rabbit, Run. So that settles that. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (134 of 152), Read 41 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 01:32 PM Zenith. Yes, I'm sure I was thinking of Main Street. Wasn't that Sauk Centre? I don't have a copy of Rabbit Run, do you have the quote? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (135 of 152), Read 39 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 01:37 PM Dick, this new book of criticism John Updike's Rabbit Tetralogy: Mastered Irony in Motion by Marshall Boswell looks fascinating. Toward the bottom here: http://www.ctel.net/~joyerkes/Item1.html I was aware of Updike's reverence for Kierkegaard, but Kierkegaard in the Rabbit books? Okay. I have an open mind--so open that you came into it as I was reading about this. This sounds right up your alley. However, I know that you are immersed in Muslin theology and all right now. Therefore, I will score a copy of this and give you a scouting report. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (136 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 01:44 PM I've commented a couple of times about Updike's amazing eye for detail---the papers blowing down the street in downtown Brewer, the fairways at the Eagle Country Club, the furnishings in the condo. Everything is just so solid and so real that you keep thinking, "Yes! I know that place, that person, that thing." But there's also a great deal of ruminating in U's writing, a great deal of speculating and at least semi-philosophising about the nature of things. This could prove deadly in the hands of a lesser writer. Or even in Updike himself, IF he didn't have us so grounded, so rooted in the real, that we are happy to follow him into the realm of thought and speculation. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (137 of 152), Read 44 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 04:11 PM I've been trying to find info on Shillington, PA, where Updike was born, to see if Brewer is based on it. The sites I've found on Shillington aren't that informative, though one did mention it is the birthplace of Updike. I loved the way Updike used the Mr.Peanut billboard to describe changes in the times. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (138 of 152), Read 40 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Sunday, June 10, 2001 08:25 PM I reread through some of the e-mails that went back and forth between Nelson and Roy. Nelson may have tried to give his son some good fatherly advice now and again, but did anybody catch the business about not only owing back support, but also that Nelson forgot Roy's birthday? He may have improved with age, but Nelson is still, well, Nelson. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (139 of 152), Read 37 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, June 11, 2001 10:08 AM In spite of Nelson's flare-up at Annabelle in the car and his less than perfect parenting, I still think he's a very changed person by the time RABBIT REMEMBERED takes place. I also came off liking Annabelle to the very end; I think she's basically a good and kind person and probably an excellent nurse. She's limited by her life's circumstances, of course, but then who of us isn't? >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (140 of 152), Read 24 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, June 11, 2001 03:49 PM I thought that I would mention for anyone interested that you can hear John Updike read the beginning of Rabbit Remembered here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/11/19/specials/updike.html#audio You can also access some dynamite interviews of him by Terry Gross of Fresh Air at that same site. John Updike's voice is worth hearing, I think. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (141 of 152), Read 30 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 11, 2001 03:53 PM Well, dang it!.. I can't get it. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (142 of 152), Read 28 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2001 09:58 AM Perhaps you could ask John to give you a hand figuring out what's wrong. You may need to download an updated version of Realplayer (free!). Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (143 of 152), Read 23 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2001 12:08 PM Thanks for finding this, Steve. So interesting. I enjoyed the interview part very much. Updike, as I guess we might have expected, is a witty guy. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (144 of 152), Read 20 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 11:38 AM Dick, I neglected to mention that I did indeed return to Rabbit, Run this past weekend and reread at least the first fifty pages as you recommended. The seeds of everything that follows are certainly there in that initial portrait of Rabbit as a young man. Also, I experienced a very eery reaction having just come off a reread of the last two big ones and the little one. Maybe it was something I ate. I don't know. Does not this writer merit the Nobel Prize? I ask that fully appreciating that the prize is never again going to an American WASP male in our lifetimes. I am aware of the criticism that his fiction centers on too narrow a subject matter and that his point of view is narrowly male, but still. . .The breadth and consistent quality of the work is there. The bibliography would match up with anyone's. I ask this as one riddled with biases. I am a slavering fan. I am WASP myself. . . .well, a little light on the Protestant thing, Anglo-Saxon only on my mother's side, these Anglo-Saxon women long having displayed a soft spot for Viking men. So clearly I am not the one to ask this, but I couldn't help it. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (145 of 152), Read 24 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:38 PM I don't know much about prizes, but Updike's Rabbit series is about as a fine a group of books as have ever been written modernly. I emphasize "group" because part of the loveliness of them is how well they work together, and how well Updike maintains the pace, the sense of time, of character and all the rest over all the (literally) years. I suspect that in another hundred years people will read Updike like we read Dickens today -- marveling at the wit, loving and hating the characters, being stirred by the sex (there's one up on Dickens) and generally reveling in the sense of really "being back in the 20th century". I would say that in the future, if you want to understand 20th century America, you will have to read both Faulkner and Updike (among others; don't ask right now, I'm still thinking who they are). And, if you want to understand the 20th century generally, you will certainly have to understand America -- so ipso your mama, as we used to say in Latin class, you have will have to read Billy and John in order to grasp some of the fundamental antecedents upon which the world of the 22nd century will have been constructed. And, eventually, over sneers and objections from the Academy ("Oh, it's a ripping good read, of course. But is it literature?") Updike will come to be recognized as one of the greats and his work will be in the canon and it will not merely be enjoyable to read Updike, it will be strictly necessary. In a way, I'm glad I won't be around when it gets all that serious. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (146 of 152), Read 26 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:45 PM Oh, Dick..how true. I think Updike will go down in literary history right beside Nabokov and Faulkner. Updike does travel from one Rabbit book to the other with tremendous grace, doesn't he? Are you reading U and I, Dick? The one thing Baker made me realize was the perfection of each word Updike uses. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (147 of 152), Read 30 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:53 PM Dick: Bravo, man! You routinely send some fine notes down from the frozen north, but I think the eloquence of this one has outdone itself. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (148 of 152), Read 34 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 12:58 PM Thank you, Dick. I feel better. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (149 of 152), Read 36 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dick Haggart (law@haggart.com) Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2001 01:41 PM Thanks for the reminder, Beej: I think Nabokov is almost certainly one of those who will have to be read in the future (and who people will want to read) as well. I have my old, battered, coffee-stained copy of U and I on the bed stand but have only been flipping back and forth in it a bit. Perhaps I'll to a concentrated reread, but things are not looking good. It's our short Alaskan summer, when we must play golf, barbecue, mate, raise our young, gather and store food for the winter and generally do all the things that ordinary people spread over a much longer period during the year. Reading takes a hit at this season. Dick "you have to sing your own song in the end." -- John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (150 of 152), Read 29 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 14, 2001 12:12 PM You're very welcome, Dick. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (151 of 152), Read 24 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 14, 2001 07:59 PM Dick, I have to tell you..I've read your last post over and over..I'm simply amazed at what you Alaskans need to do during your short summer season! Gather food? What do you mean? Do you forage for edible roots? And some of those summer activities really do carry over very nicely into the other seasons! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (152 of 152), Read 24 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Thursday, June 14, 2001 08:10 PM AND!..(here I go on a rant) Speaking of Nabokov and Updike in the same breath..What exactly is going on between these two writers! I cannot tell if Nabokov is an idol or an enemy of Updike's.. Seems he praises him only to turn around and knock him down on his literary hineybumper. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (90 of 98), Read 15 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 01:59 PM I don't know where to post this, but since it concerns Harry and Janice Angstrom, I suppose this is as good a place as any. I just picked up a little trade paperback called Conversations With John Updike, edited by James Plath; quite a good little book, too. We had discussed what exactly held this couple together, and this is what Updike has to say: 'Jill was designed as a counterpart of sorts to the baby's death. Janice inadvertently kills an innocent in the first book, so Rabbit more or less presides over the destruction of an innocent in the second one. There's a grisly balancing between the two. Each character strays- Rabbit in the first, Janice in the second- and their reconciliation is based at least in some way upon these, if you will, murders. This book is a gold mine. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (91 of 98), Read 15 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 02:07 PM Updike also speaks of the differences in Janice and Harry that transpire from Rabbit, Run to Rabbit Redux. He says in Redux, there is a reversal in roles; Janice is now the one who is liberal and open and Harry has become rather stolid and closed. How fascinating! Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (92 of 98), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 03:59 PM Beej, I have heard of this book but never run across it. Thanks for posting a bit about it. It does sound fascinating. This is a bit self-contradictory however. I have long argued here that we shouldn't place too much trust in how an author interprets his or her own work. I am happy learn what Updike has to say anyway though. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (93 of 98), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 04:04 PM Can you explain to me why you feel that way? Is it because you think the reader should be freely allowed his own personal interpretation without 'interference' from the author? Conversations With John Updike is one I think most Updike fans would really, really enjoy. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (94 of 98), Read 10 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 04:56 PM Can I butt in? I think that perhaps the author is not always the best interpreter because the author is too close to his work to always be able to see accurately what he has done. He always has what he set out to do in his head, clouding his vision as it were. It's well nigh impossible to step completely back from one's own work, and read it as a stranger would. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (95 of 98), Read 10 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 05:06 PM Any book is like Kilimanjaro - its aspect is dependent on your location at the time you see it. pres delicate things on feet and wings Are busy finding work to do.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (96 of 98), Read 11 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: David Moody (davidmoody@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 05:19 PM Authors can say what was the work means in their mind. Other interpreters say what the work means to their mind. So which version is the more valid? David
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (97 of 98), Read 9 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 05:40 PM That is one hell of a philosophical question. The easy way out is to say that each person's interpretation is valid for him or her. It is truth that makes a perception "valid" and we each carry a different set of truths with us. If you presume an over arching Truth, well . . . I'm going to post it anyway, but I am NOT satisfied how it looks. pres delicate things on feet and wings Are busy finding work to do.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (98 of 98), Read 8 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Pres Lancaster (plancast@neteze.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 05:42 PM More valid ? More true ? You could say that you can't ask the question, truly. pres delicate things on feet and wings Are busy finding work to do.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (99 of 99), Read 2 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 06:32 PM Any book is like Kilimanjaro - its aspect is dependent on your location at the time you see it. This touches on exactly my point, Pres. When an author finishes a novel, turns it over to the publisher, and releases it into the world, then it is in a very real sense more ours than his or hers--those of us that read it. It is our perception and our reaction to it that determines its meaning. I don't mind reading about what an author had in mind when he wrote the thing as a curiosity. However, I have a deep distrust of the position that the author's intent and interpretation is the final word. Far from it! Fiction writing is much more of a mystical process than that mechanistic view. As I understand it, this is very close to the reason that Faulkner refused ever to engage in any interpretation of his own novels. Steve
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (73 of 79), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 09:17 PM I suppose, since characters exist entirely in the readers' minds, interpretation should come entirely from the readers' minds. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (74 of 79), Read 20 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 09:37 PM I don't think it's a question of should or should not. It's just different. And the author is sometimes the last to see it. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (75 of 79), Read 17 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 09:47 PM Oh, and Beej. I forgot to pick up Of the Farm this morning. Drove all the way back down the hill to town late this afternoon only to find the library had closed 15 minutes before. I'll try and get it tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm reading Updike's Just Looking, and started a thread on it. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (76 of 79), Read 14 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 11:10 PM That's okay, Ruth. I'm not done with Couples yet. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (77 of 79), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Friday, June 22, 2001 11:46 PM I do have to admit, as I read through some of Conversations With John Updike I came across a couple things he said about Witches of Eastwick and, more specifically, Couples that were diametrically different from my 'take.' He says, for instance, Couples is primarily a book of sexuality among the upper middle class, era early 1960's, and this surprises me because I see so much more than that. Ruth, I think you're right..sometimes an author sees what he sees and is too 'close' to get the full scope of the characters he has created. This is absolutely not a down playing of Conversations With Updike, however, because the book is ever so much more than about his novels. Beej
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (78 of 79), Read 14 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 08:47 AM I heard a comment this morning on NPR that seems, to me, to apply to the RABBIT novels and a lot more. Scott Simon, in an essay on how the character of Archie Bunker changed during the show's long run, concluded that "No really interesting person has yet matured into a complete human being." Wow. Much food for thought, there. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Rabbit Remembered: John Updike (79 of 79), Read 15 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 09:11 AM How true! It's the journey that holds all the fun stuff, isn't it? Beej