Beginning with a kid’s back-alley basketball game, Updike’s novel, ‘Rabbit, Run’, lures the reader in by foreshadowing the deeper events to come later. The game is interrupted by an ‘odd adult’, 26 year old Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom – our (anti-?) hero. Even here, on the basketball court, where Rabbit feels most at ease in his own skin, he is an outsider and unwanted. Imagine how he fits into the wider American society – the middle class family life, the department store job demonstrating and selling the ‘Magipeel’, and being a member of the Episcopal Church. It is this basketball game that initially represents his estrangement from society, a theme which develops deeply throughout the novel.
“In the University library he wandered through the stacks, among the thousands of books, inhaling the musty odor of leather, cloth, and drying page as if it were an exotic incense.”
Although I thought I was 50 years late to reading (and writing a review of) Stoner (1965) by John Williams, it turns out I’m really only a year or two late. Apparently this unassuming and, in some ways, unremarkable novel was the must read book of 2013 according to Julian Barnes writing in December of that year. Anyway, it is indeed a substantially good read – worthy of the fanfare it received recently, and almost frustrating that it did not receive similar reviews during Williams’s own lifetime.
Albert Camus – The Stranger
Tl; dr – (Then read the book instead, you won’t regret it.)
In The Stranger Camus uses imagery of nature in an otherwise simply worded text to ultimately express the absurdity of the human condition, and the over-powering steadfastness of nature.
“Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.”