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Falconer Paperback – January 15, 1992


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Falconer + The Stories of John Cheever
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679737863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679737865
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Cheever's triumph.... A great American novel." —Newsweek

"One of the most important novels of our time.... Read it and be ennobled." —The New York Times

"Falconer is splendid. It is rough, it is elegant, it is pure. It is also indispensable, if you earnestly desire to know what is happening to the human soul in the U.S.A." —Saul Bellow

"One of our truly fine writers.... The novel proceeds directly on its course, taking the reader along with it.... Moving and excellent." —The Washington Post

From the Publisher

7 1-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Customer Reviews

Occasionally, good things happen in the novel.
Miami Bob
This book is a must read for any Cheever fans like myself and any one who likes prison novels or novels about junkies.
Claire
His work, "Falconer", is extremely well written and generally critically admired.
taking a rest

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
. . . and I agree! As implausible as it sounds, Cheever achieved literary greatness in a prison novel with its central character a college professor and murderer who is also a heroin addict and a guilty, closeted homosexual. "Oh Farragut, Farragut, why is you an addict?" asks his guard, and through flashback and reminiscence we learn how and why. One of those rare books that takes place largely in the mind but is truly gripping--and the Attica-like prison Farragut is confined to holds a few surprises of its own. It is hard to overpraise "Falconer." Honestly, if you don't like this book you don't like modern American fiction.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I came to this book recently after a period of reading basically junk, so I may have liked it much better than otherwise because it was so superior to the low rent popular fiction I had been consuming. Much bleaker than I would have expected of Cheever, this story follows a man imprisoned for murder who must come to terms with how totally his life has changed. Slow paced and thorough, the 'plot' occurs more in the actions of the protagonist's mind than in the external world of the prison, yet maintains its hold on the reader.
One aspect of the story that stood out for me was the matter of fact way in which the protagonist takes a same sex lover, explaining how important real human contacts - physical and otherwise - were to maintaining sanity. I think these scenes are both believable and understandable to the most heterosexual of readers. A further testiment to Cheever's talent as a writer.
I can't say that this is a pleasant book. But it kept my interest till the end, and I haven't been able to really put the book behind me. On the other hand, I couldn't even tell you the titles of the other books I was reading at this time.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By immortal pickwick on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
For readers compeled by Cheever's recurring themes throughout his short stories probing dysfunctional suburban middle-class families this book won't disappoint. But here, Cheever turns his attention to a heroin-addict named Ezekiel Farragut imprisoned at Falconer, a grey obsolescent "correctional facility," for fratricide. Deeply critical of modern forms of punishment, and drawing on his own experiences as teacher at Sing-Sing in the 70s, Cheever depicts a plutonian world of iron and concrete and dripping pipes where the forgotten and forgettable are kept behind bars, their humanity supressed and marginalized. Ezekiel, or Zeke, comes from a genteel family fractured after a reversal of fortunes that closely resembles Cheever's own family and childhood. The story of Zeke's wayward brother, his gas attendant mother and disconnected father deftly weaves in and out of his year-long death in Falconer and finally his gripping and unexpected rebirth, somewhat reminiscent of a modern Crime and Punishment. In spite of the book's difficult subject matter, the dark sides of humanity and society and relentless dealings with hopeless characters and rather sordid scenes, Cheever succeeds in drawing in his captive reader and forces us to ask tough questions about ourselves and the retributive society we live in. An important read, but not for the fainthearted!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Robinson on February 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this novel almost by accident. I decided to buy and read the novel because it is a Penguin Classic and I had not read any of Cheever's other works, although I had read one short story by him. This is a short novel, or a long novella less than 160 pages. It follows part of the life of a man in prison.

The novel is more than just a prison novel; but saying that, it is a prison novel about men, their fantasies, their wants, their values, and tales of men having sex with other men in prison. If you do not want to read about men having sex in prison, then skip the book.

"Falconer" is the story of one man's struggle with himself in a prison. It describes his outside family, his fellow inmates, and the affair that he develops in prison. It describes his inner turmoil and motivations. I did not find Farragut - the protagonist of the tale - to be a sympathetic personality in any fashion. One can understand him, but sympathy is a different matter. Values in life can be described as moral relativism with no absolute rights and wrongs but here the protagonist makes many decisions for short term gratification with dire long term consequences. This isolated him from society, and of course many people live in isolation and in different ways so the book has a more universal resonance.

The book was superbly written, and one can appreciate Saul Bellow's kind words about the book and its author which appears on the book jacket. The prose and the structure show the obvious skill of Cheever. It is difficult to give the book anything less than 5 stars.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Burgess on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
More than just a prison novel. More than just a Cheever novel. This book transcends genre and defies catagorization. "Falconer" is the absolutely gripping story of one man's struggle with himself in an environment more brutal than you can imagine. By that, I mean emotional and spiritual brutality as much as physical brutality.
The book allows us to enter Farragut's life so completely and understand the motivations that drive his decisions. We can identify with his struggles, even his drug addiction, which he feels is "a beautiful illustration of the bounds of his mortality." We yearn for his redemption, but we fear he may never achieve it. This is truly a profound and moving novel.
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