Thursday, June 28, 2012

Falconer (by John Cheever)

A book on Ye Olde Time 100 list, and the shortest one I had left, at 211 pages. It's a novella about a guy in a prison--the prison's name is Falconer. It opens up with some pretty obvious, Old Man and the Sea-level Jesus Imagery. (He has criminals on his right and his left, talks about nails, and innocence, and I was afraid it would be a lot like OMatS where I was like OMG HEMINGWAY I GET IT HE'S JESUS THE OLD MAN IS JESUS I GET IT ALREADY. But instead it works nicely here; it's pretty clearly established and comes back very clearly at the end, but the middle is more vignettes of prison life and the symbolism is more subtle. (Also, the man-on-man prison action is kind of interesting, given Cheever's bisexuality. It's presented semi-lovingly.)

I wouldn't call this a must-read on the level of The Virgin Suicides or anything, but I did enjoy getting to know a little bit of Cheever. And I would give it a thumbs up, if not a wildly enthusiastic one. (In contrast, I am currently reading the endless, endlessly irritating Augie March. Ugh. Saul Bellow.)

"There were the stalenesses of the courthouse to remember, the classroom window shades, the sense of an acute tedium that was like the manipulations of the most pitiless and accomplished torturer, and if the last he would see of the world was the courthouse, he claimed he had no regrets, although he would, in fact, have clung to any floorboard, spittoon or worn bench if he thought that it might save him." (p. 199)

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