Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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The Continuing Saga of Gayle and the John Updike Novels

Sometimes I don't make very much sense. A few days ago erdbeermund asked for recommendations about whether to read John Updike's novel Rabbit Redux. I've never read Rabbit Redux, but I attempted to comment based on what little I could remember of the first novel in the same series, Rabbit, Run, which I was assigned to read for a college English class seven or eight years ago. Realizing that I really remembered very little of it provoked me to take it off my bookshelf and reread it, after which I commented further to erdbeermund but was indecisive about how much to recommend reading it (or its sequel). After voicing these mixed feelings about the book (it was well-written but the main character was so despicable it was hard to want to hear more about him), I was then inexplicably seized by a sudden desperate need to go read its sequel Rabbit Redux immediately. So I drove to the nearest bookstore in search of it.

I found it immediately, but was taken aback by the reminder that there's actually more than one sequel - it's a four-part series, and the only book in it that I've read yet is the first one. So I first decided to buy all three of the remaining ones. I took them off the shelf and then decided to look around and check if any other books interested me. Soon I had picked up John Irving's The Fourth Hand and The 158-Pound Marriage (because I can never, ever, ever get enough of John Irving), Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life (because I liked his other novel, Native Speaker), and Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby (because I've never read anything by him but people keep telling me to read him so I decided to finally get around to it, and this was the only book the store had in paperback so that's why I picked this one). I then looked through my selections and felt guilty for not reading more female authors. (Why yes, I do obsess about demographic equality rather more than is probably necessary.) Hmm. I decided to look through the shelves a little harder so I could find one book by a female author to add to the pile. The one I picked was Goldrush by Miri Yu, who I've never heard of, but the book cover is adorned with the notations "Winner of the Akutagawa Prize" and "A Kiriyama Prize Notable Book of the Year" and when I opened it, it looked interesting. So then I was all done shopping, except I made the mistake of not closing my eyes and running to the checkout counter with them closed, so of course my eye was immediately caught by more books - specifically, by the fact that Anchee Min, author of the fantastic novel Red Azalea, has published two new books since the last time I checked. I decided I really needed to buy one of her two newest books - specifically, Wild Ginger, because that's the one that was available in paperback. But at this point I had kind of a lot of books, so I decided to reconsider whether I should put some of them back. I opened each book I had selected and glanced through it to get a sense of whether it was really the kind of book I could get easily immersed in. And when I finished this, guess which books I put back?

That's right: I put back all the John Updike ones, and only the John Updike ones. The ones I had actually driven to the store for the purpose of buying. Because, well, when I opened them, that same main character Rabbit was still there and he was still despicable and I was still annoyed about it. And when I tried glancing through the Updike books that weren't about Rabbit, I couldn't really find any very convincing evidence that the characters in those weren't just as unpleasant. So, a whole shopping trip just for the purpose of buying Updike novels, and I left the store with lots of novels but none by Updike. Then I thought perhaps I'd stop at the library on the way home to look for Updike novels there, but when I got to the library I didn't feel like stopping, so I just came home. I sure wasn't kidding about feeling indecisive about this guy.

But now I also want to write about the book I was reading last night, before the shopping trip. I was going to do that in this post, but on second thought, I think it's probably better separated into its own. I'm working on it.
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