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Rabbit, run on
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come_to_think
The following sentence appears in a review in the latest NYRev:

As well as his alter egos, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, his sad, comical, unintellectual "conduit" into middle America, Henry Bech, his witty impersonation of a lionized, peripatetic, cosmopolitan New York Jew, and Richard Maple, the antihero of his most savagely truthful marriage/adultery stories, Updike invents personae for himself in his stories whose occupations seem like a series of self-directed jokes.

Yes, that is a sentence, tho it took me three or four tries to find it out.  Treating it as a punctuation exercise for a remedial composition class, I obtain

As well as his alter egos (Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, his sad, comical, unintellectual "conduit" into middle America; Henry Bech, his witty impersonation of a lionized, peripatetic, cosmopolitan New York Jew; and Richard Maple, the antihero of his most savagely truthful marriage/adultery stories), Updike invents personae for himself, in his stories, whose occupations seem like a series of self-directed jokes.

That is unlovely but can be parsed the first time around.

As for John Updike, he lost me in 1972.  I wrote in a journal I was keeping then:


Wednesday afternoon 5 April     New Haven

Just finished Updike's Rabbit Redux.  It was disappointing, as most sequels are.  I really liked Rabbit, Run --- in fact, read it several times --- because it brought into sharp focus the difference between being abnormal and being neurotic.  Angstrom (funny --- I know the unit was named after a man, but that still sounds funny as a man's name --- as if someone were called Inch) is a normal neurotic: someone who leaves the radio on when he's driving & listens to the commercials & knows the names of the drivelly music; someone who, when he gets himself in trouble, goes first to his old basketball coach & then to his minister; someone who has no difficulty making sexual advances, & actually is attracted only to women --- & yet he is obviously fucked up: more so than I am, if one judges by the pain he is capable of causing.  Probably, in Rabbit, Run, he is a remembrance of Updike's unsophisticated youth, &, so far as one unaccustomed to normal people can tell, he is believable.  But now Updike has run off & become a literary man, so he has no experience on which to base his extrapolation of the Rabbit who stayed in "Brewer", & his imagination (constricted by his new parish, the N.Y. literary world?) mostly fails him.  The characters are too witty to be real, & not witty enough to be entertaining à la Shaw.  The plot is a positive soap opera of grotesque disasters.

In that respect Couples (wh. I read last summer) was better; there Updike was once again writing about people of his own generation and class.  My only complaint about that book was that it did not have a happy ending.  I read the beginning of it only a yr ago & then lost my copy, & all that time I hoped that it would turn out a pleasantly ironic story of a community kept together, & families stabilized, by adultery.  This idea was stimulated by a remark I read years ago, that no-one preaches sermons on the families that are saved by drink, which makes so many husbands & wives able to face each other & their children.*  /*Margaret Mead, perhaps?/  But it turned out not to be Mr Updike's idea.  (Perhaps I shd have been reading Rimmer's propaganda instead.)

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Eleven commas and a pair of spurious scare quotes: "Oy Sheeyoot", as Harrison Ford's character said in "The Frisco Kid". Yours is much better—it's parsable and there are only ten commas—though I think this really ought to be at least two sentences.

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