Novelist Ajay Close names Rabbit her favorite character

Novelist and dramatist Ajay Close (Official and Doubtful, A Petrol Scented Spring, The Daughter of Lady Macbeth, What We Did in the Dark) was asked by The Herald (U.K.) to share her favorites, which included:

  • Favorite book read as a child:  The Owl Service, by Alan Garner
  • First book that made an impact:  The Complete Shakespeare
  • Books that made her laugh/cry: Man or Mango? by Lucy Ellmann, The 5 Simple Machines, by Todd McEwen; Janine by Alastair Gray, Underworld, by Don DeLillo
  • Favorite character:  Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom
  • Book you wish you’d written:  The Green Road, by Anne Enright
  • Guilty pleasure: Iris Murdoch and her “20-odd novels”

In naming her favorite character she says, “Twenty years ago it would have been one of Philip Roth’s or Saul Bellow’s mouthy egomaniacs, but as I get older I find myself bored by larger-than-life characters, on and off the page. John Updike’s novels are too priapic to be fashionable these days. His attempts at writing women are, frankly, insulting. Nevertheless, I choose Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, fleshed-out over four novels, Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit at Rest.

“A superannuated high-school jock still thinking with his groin, a meathead car salesman who despises his wife Janice (‘the little mutt’) and sees his admittedly repellent son Nelson as a rival threatening his identity as the family alpha. Updike smuggles us inside Rabbit’s skin, gives us every venal impulse and selfish thought, the politics he’s picked up from reading Consumer Reports. Why should we care about him? Because every few pages Updike shows us the tender boy buried underneath all that.”

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