18 June, 2016

Rabbit Is Rich (First Trade Edition)

BY John Updike
Book Information1/1/0/US/AF/1981/?  •  210x142x42  •  648  •  Pulitzer'82  •  NBA'82  •  NBCCA'81

A decade after “Rabbit Redux", we have the only comedy, and the most successful novel in terms of literary awards, of the Rabbit tetralogy. In "Rabbit is Rich", Harry stopped running because he, along with the rest of America, is "running out of gas". That bore well for Harry's Toyota dealership, handed to him by his father-in-law - "because there isn't a piece of junk on the road gets better mileage than his Toyotas, with lower service costs".

So Rabbit is rich now, for a change. But he is also still the irreverent Rabbit who plays golf and drinks, now at a country club, with a bunch of cronies who, in a Caribbean trip, did some wife-swapping. Perhaps to make amends to his past infraction, and to seek closure on the status of a daughter who he does not know was given birth to, Rabbit also wandered around to look for Ruth, the mistress he walked out on in "Rabbit, Run". The fun part, though, starts with the return of Nelson, his resentful son, from college, with two girls, one of whom he impregnated and married before running away - the long shadow of Rabbit's own youth. The apples doesn't fall very far from the tree.

"Rabbit is Rich", published in 1981 by Alfred Knopf, would be Updike's most "prized" novel, sweeping all major American literary awards - the National Book Critics Circle Award in the same year, and the Pulitzer and the National Book Award in 1982. The Pulitzer fiction jury praised Updike, noting that "no one writing in English today can match his purity of style" but placed "Rabbit is Rich" third on its recommendation list, behind Robert Stone's "A Flag for Sunrise" and Marilynne Robinson's debut novel, "Housekeeping". The Advisory Board, however, elected to bestow Updike with the Pulitzer. For the NBA, Updike came up top against Robert Stone again, Mark Helprin's "Ellis Island and Other Stories", John Irving's "The Hotel New Hampshire", and William Wharton's "Dad". For the NBCCA, Rabbit was victorious against fellow finalists comprising Russell Hoban's "Riddley Walker", Donald Barthelme's "Sixty Stories", Leonard Michaels' "The Men's Club", and Robert Stone's "Flag" yet again.

Interestingly, Updike also designed the dust jacket for the trade version, keeping the disc - in the form of a rainbow of happiness, perhaps an allusion to Noah's covenant - without the strips, and adding an image of the Susan Anthony dollar. 

This is the first edition first printing trade edition with the original dust jacket that is unclipped, reflecting the correct price of $13.95. The book is bound in yellow clothed board with gilt and silver lettering, and has red topstain. The copyright page should state "First Edition". There is a separate signed limited first edition.

This book is not very rare and a VG+ copy can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks from $50 onwards. This is a NF copy with a NF dust jacket and a NF book.

















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