Reviews

Falconer, by John Cheever

jwmcoaching's review against another edition

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1.0

Did Not Finish.

Frustrating. I love Cheever's short stories, but this was so far from those as to be almost unrecognizable. The writing is accomplished, maybe even very good, but the narrative is barely even there. It reminded me a little of Our Lady of the Flowers, which is an extremely tough read, but at least has the saving grace of beautiful, poetic language. I read 1/3 of this and just felt like it wasn't worth the effort.

bessa's review

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5.0

მაგარია, მართლა ამერიკის ჩეხოვია რა!))

johnpaulgatenby's review

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dark emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

infinitejoe's review

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3.0

This was on Time's Top 100 List? I'm not sure I see why. It's not that the book wasn't good, it just wasn't great. Farragut seemed to be a drug addicted hollowed out soul going through the motions of surviving in prison, and nothing more, which was probably the point, but I felt both a lack of character depth and a plot, and I at least like to have one of those in a book. Aside from these flaws, it was still a book that kept my attention throughout, and I did like the writing, so I wouldn't say it was a waste of my time. It's just not a book that will stay with me for very long.

closet_rebel's review

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3.0

Awesome writing, boring story.

ellisknox's review

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1.0

I tried, I really did. But I simply didn't care about the characters. I couldn't finish it.

lavina_l's review

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2.0

Everything I love about Cheever's fiction seems to have been sucked out of these pages.

eiseneisen's review

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3.0

I buy books. It’s my lone consumerism weakness. I love books. I love to read them, I love to hold them and smell them, I love to own them. So I buy them (despite not having room for them, despite my wife’s exasperated instructions to the contrary). I’m not rich, so I go to library book sales and buy books for between $1-$3. I buy 2 types of books—books I’ve heard/read about and want to read, and books whose covers convince me that I’ll enjoy them, that I should read them. Falconer by John Cheever was the latter type of purchase.

The cover of Falconer informs you that the author is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize (always a promising sign), and features a single quote from The New York Times:
“One of the most important novels of our time… Read it and be ennobled.” I’ve always found it difficult to pass up an opportunity for a little ennobling, so I bought the book and eagerly set about reading it.

Falconer is a fine book. There are sentences, paragraphs, pages, and even a few sections of true brilliance, in which the author simply and deftly illustrates the suffering, the hope, the absurdity, the warmth, the pain, the impotence, and the humor that characterize human existence. Oftentimes I read these passages twice or more, to marvel at and indulge myself in Cheever’s skill. Suffice to say these passages connected with me in a deep way. There are also sentences, paragraphs, pages, and more than a section or 2 of masturbatory flights of fancy that were utterly incomprehensible to This Guy—sentences, paragraphs, pages, and sections where I was just like, “Wuck?” I mean I was lost. And irritated.

It is entirely possible that this reader doesn’t possess the intellect or imagination necessary to understand or appreciate all of the brilliance that John Cheever has to share. Forgive me for saying so, but I think it is just as likely that because Cheever writes so brilliantly at times, reviewers simply give him the benefit of the doubt when his writing becomes impenetrable. That they characterize the entire work as brilliant, when in fact only certain sentences, paragraphs, pages, and sections are brilliant (and others maddening).

Bottom line—Falconer is a fine book. But I don’t feel ennobled.

levitybooks's review

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4.0

*Medium Spoilers*

Surprisingly good for random pick at the library. I've never read so detailed an account of male homosexuality before. I've never seen any attempts at communicating the subtle nuances between a man desiring either a man or a woman within a narrative. I think this book mundanely but realistically explains the psychological experience of both homosexuality and prison, which is rare because both are normally made so sensational due to their political sensitivity that it's hard to know what it really is like.

Knowing John Cheever was secretly homosexual adds complexity for biographical critique. I'm unsure of whether he thinks male sexuality is socially conditioned (men becoming 'temporarily bisexual' in prison until they see their wives again) as opposed to something that is mostly established after adolescent development but sometimes covered by denial, or whether he had to write it like this to disguise the fact that he might empathize too closely with homosexuality to make his own homosexuality obvious to the public at a time where it was not that safe to do so.

freehottakes's review

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1.0

One star because zero stars is not possible with Goodreads. This book is awful. At least it's a fast read so the pain will end soon. He writes with the self-importance of someone who has too often been told that he is a Very Important Writer, and it detracts from the story. For all I know, the story could be great, but it is difficult to tell, viewing it as we must through the smug lens of John Cheever.