[Rabbit] had thought, he had read, that from shore to shore all America was the same. He wonders, Is it just these people I'm outside, or is it all America?
— Rabbit, Run
In his introduction to Rabbit Angstrom, Updike prepares Rabbit's way by evoking, first, “The United States, ” and, second, “such masterpieces as Moby-Dick and Huckleberry Finn”—all within the first two sentences. Clearly, the author has high hopes for this single-volume edition of his career-long project. These hopes are well founded, I feel, for the simple reason that the omnibus edition of the tetralogy allows readers to experience his thirty-year project as the single, sustained achievement that it is. The Rabbit books are really one book. What's more, they constitute Updike's best book, the one book that will unquestionably outlive him. Like his other fecund contemporaries—John Barth, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates—Updike has perhaps published too much. With more than forty book titles already to his name—the whole corpus comprising, thanks to the indulgence of Alfred A. Knopf, a tidy uniform edition—he runs the risk of writing himself into oblivion. The reader of the future, surveying Updike's sagging shelf of books, will understandably wonder which one of the forty (and counting) volumes will provide, in distilled form, the essence of Updike. Rabbit Angstrom is that book.