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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rabbit, Run

A couple of years ago, I was studying abroad in Italy and loving every minute of it. One of my favorite shops in my pseudo-home city of Firenze was Paperback Exchange, a second-hand trade-in English bookshop. Paperback Exchange always had the best bargain boxes, which is where I picked up my tattered copy of John Updike's "Rabbit, Run" for less than a euro. When I chose "Rabbit, Run" as my purchase of the day, I had never heard of the series. Instead, the cover, like all great cover art should, drew me in. It was old, worn and provocative. And after reading the novel, I came to realize and appreciate each element included.

"Rabbit, Run" is the first in a series of four novels about lead character Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's life, from young-adulthood to death. I have only read the first two ("Rabbit, Run" and "Rabbit Redux") so far, because I can't find a copy of "Rabbit is Rich" that is aesthetically pleasing, but Rabbit is one of my top three favorite literary characters.

During my search for "Rabbit is Rich" I have come across a variety of "Rabbit, Run" covers, but I still like my Italia find the best. I've also found quite a few on GoodReads that are pretty interesting.

CLICK THROUGH to the jump to see more covers and read what I have to say about each one.

Above, I've included one of my least favorite and one of my favorite covers for this novel.

The one on the left, I dislike. I'm not really sure why a hand has replaced the face of Rabbit Angstrom and I think the cover is just reaching to be different.

I really enjoy the cover on the right, however. Rabbit was the star of his high school basketball team, earning him a spot as a small town celebrity. Since the novel focuses a lot on Rabbit trying to break free from his past, and present, I think this cover is very fitting. The only problem I have with it is the size of the book's title compared to the size of the authors name. A large name works well for a well-known author in order to draw in readers, but the book title is almost lost against the basketball in this case.

Alright, I'll admit it, I have no idea what language this cover is in, but I love the use of the hand on it. Unlike the cover above where I didn't like the hand, this cover makes sense. I'm sure most childhoods involved shadow puppets at some point, and this rabbit-from-a-hand is the simplest trick around. The colors used here are also striking and grab attention from a potential reader pretty easily.

I like a lot of things about the above cover: the typewriter-esque typeface, the white space, the sketch with select color and (what seems to be) a small sunrise (or sunset?) at the bottom. There is one thing I dislike: using Updike's picture as the sketch. I just have a hard time getting behind the use of an author's picture on a novel. Other than that, it's alright by me.

I am currently trying to collect the hardcover Rabbit series. Unfortunately they all have this cover, but each novel in it's own colors. I wish I knew who made this decision, the multi-colored stripes, but I think I'll stick with the "ignorance is bliss" card this time.

Last, but not least, the classic, and always classy, Penguin cover. I will always love these covers and their simplicity. Collecting them has become some sort of hobby, even if I've never heard of the book behind the cover. Although they may seem like an auto-win because of this, I still like my original find best.


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