Books That Inspire 2002

Rabbit is Rich
John Updike

Running out of gas… is how John Updike's Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom describes the world around him as we begin Rabbit is Rich.

The hero of Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux is now enjoying considerable prosperity as a chief sales representative of a Toyota agency in central Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, the president collapses while running in a marathon, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national confidence.

When I encountered Updike's new novel in 1982 (which won him the first of two Pulitzer Prizes - the second was for Rabbit at Rest ten years later), I knew I had come upon a writer whose words would inspire me for a very long time. His tour-de-force observations about American life and the objects and desires of the American sensibility spoke directly to me. Since that fateful encounter, I have read nearly all of Updike's canon of some 50 books, including prose, criticism and poetry. And what a surprise and joy it was for me as a composer to discover so many lovely poems for musical setting!

Rabbit is Rich is a perfect introduction to Updike's comic and insightful world of Harry Angstrom and also to an extraordinary body of work by one of America's foremost writers.
Kenneth Fuchs
School of Music