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Falconer Paperback – January 15, 1992
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"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
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Ezekiel Farragut was a drug addict and a college professor until he killed his brother. Now he's a drug addict and an inmate in Falconer Correctional Center in upstate New York (think: Sing Sing or Attica). "Farragut, Farragut, why is you a addict?" asks his cell keeper, "Tiny," and this book, much of it told in flashback, attempts to answer why. Now I'm sure some of this book will be unsavory to some readers, part of it involves a homosexual love story, in fact -- but I recommend reading it all anyway. We read ANNA KARENINA or FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and consider the "ugly parts" intrinsic to the story. I think FALCONER deserves the same respect.
It can be grotesque yet funny at the same time.
There is an obsession with physical attraction.
There is denial of homosexuality yet he misses Jody. We don’t even hear about Jody until half way through – is this an example of the closet case withholding information?
The author has spent his life in institutions: the army, the Church, marriage, prison.
The prison seems better than today’s US prisons –rooms rather than cages.
Those who have read it twice say that it’s definitely worth re-reading.
Some say that “Falconer” is a prison novel only in the sense that Falconer is a metaphor for the life of a closeted homosexual. Others think of it as the Great American Novel, with all the ambiguities of American life – attention to the surface nor what lies underneath, pleading innocence, ‘saving the world’ rather than imperialism (after all, it was written at the end of Vietnam), alienation, coming down from the high of the Summer of Love.
Cheever was a lifelong Episcopalian, so it it about fall and redemption, the tension between flesh and spirit, and the movement from suffering to joy?
The management of the prison behaves like any that of any other institution. The inmates relate to the warders much like pupils to teachers.
The Latin on pp. 118-9 is not that of the Mass. Nor would communicants receive the wine (p. 131).
I read Falconer for the first time in 1978, when I was eighteen. I was less confused rereading it this week, and feel more comfortable accepting what I don't know.
I recommend this book to mature readers who look for subtlety.
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It can be grotesque yet funny at the same time.Read more