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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Library edition (March 26 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423395697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423395690
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 2.5 x 16.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Product Description

Review

"Cheever's debut novel is skittish, mercurial and ringing with life" Guardian "The best introduction to Cheever's work...richly inventive and vividly told" New York Times Magazine "A tapestry woven from the threads of emotion, tragedy, comedy...and the irony so wonderfully evident in the author's short stories...a literary mosaic...Cheever is a pleasure to read" San Francisco Chronicle "A brilliantly written novel, vastly and sometimes sadly, amusing" Time --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Cheever, best known for his short stories dealing with upper-middle-class suburban life, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1912. Cheever published his first short story at the age of seventeen. He was the recipient of a 1951 Guggenheim Fellowship and winner of a National Book Award for The Wapshot Chronicle in 1958, the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Stories of John Cheever, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and an American Book Award. He died in 1982, at the age of seventy.

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First Sentence
St. Botolphs was an old place, an old river town. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 1 2001
Format: Paperback
Caution: The Wapshot Chronicle makes many coarse references to sex for hire. This language and the scenes described would probably earn this book an R rating if it were a motion picture.
The Wapshot Chronicle is one of those big family stories that details parts of the lives of three generations, while providing a sense of those who came before. This is a family of sea-faring New Englanders who explored the far reaches of the Pacific and also produced missionaries who served in Hawaii. If you have read James Michener's Hawaii, you will have a picture in mind that will be accurate about the Wapshot forebearers. In the current generation, there's plenty of money in the hands of eccentric, elderly Cousin Honora. She provides for her cousin Leander, his wife Sarah, and their sons, Moses and Coverly. Cousin Honora does this in the spirit of honoring the family heritage, and she is quite interested in seeing the family continue on. The book focuses in on her efforts to encourage this continuity, and what resulted.
John Cheever's greatest strength is his ability to conceive of highly original and interesting characters. In The Wapshot Chronicle, you will find two of the 20th century's most original fictional females, Cousin Honora and Justina Wapshot Molesworth Scadden. The men, by comparison, are pretty bland. They are so obsessed with their sexual desires and wanting to have a superior, independent position that they become predictably limited.
His second greatest strength is that he is able to weave a novel out of a series of short-story-like episodes that have unexpected twists and cliff-hangers near their ends. Each is a gem, and glitters shiniest with understatement. A few words, a few concepts sketch out the beginnings of a pregnant circumstance. Then, he moves on . . .
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Format: Paperback
Looking over the previous customer reviews of this masterful, moving and tragicomic novel by one of this country's greatest and most melodic writers ever, I was struck by the small clique of people who claimed that the novel was "boring" or otherwise somehow unworthy of the National Book Award it had received upon publication almost half a century ago now. At first I was troubled by this; how could anyone read this and fail to experience that so-called shock of recognition, the realization that this is one of the great masterpieces in the English language. And then the answer came quite simply: Some people simply aren't capable of such recognition.
Pity, for them.
The Wapshot Chronicle is Cheever at his best. (And to the customer who wrote that Cheever was merely a short story writer and not a novelist...absurd! In addition to this book, Bullet Park and Falconer were both brilliant novels of the first order.) This is quite simply a work of art, rich in color and textured in Cheever's unique and brilliant prose. Cheever's obvious and famous love of the language shines through on every page, with a lilting, almost musical cadence. But what he offers that so many other great writers of prose can't is his wonderful storytelling gift. No one before or since has matched Cheever's ability to marry substantive narrative and an almost poetic meter with such mesmerizing results (although lesser writers such as Updike have built long and distinguished careers trying.)
I have my well-worn copy of "Chronice" here in front of me, and I have opened two pages at random. Here is a line drawn from each page, to illustrate Cheever's soaring gift:
"What a tender thing, then, is a man.
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By A.J. on June 11 2001
Format: Paperback
The fictitious Wapshot family of Cheever's "The Wapshot Chronicle" are old-line New Englanders, prominent but modest citizens of St. Botolphs, Massachusetts. The central characters are Leander, the aging father, who is the captain of a boat that transports passengers between a leisure island and the mainland; his loving wife Sarah; his carefree, irresponsible sons Moses and Coverly; and his elderly, senile cousin Honora, who owns the boat and is in fact the family's financial anchor.
The novel's chain of events is set into motion one night when a car crashes into a tree near the Wapshots' house. The driver is killed, but the passenger, a girl named Rosalie, is taken inside the Wapshots' house for convalescence. It's not long before Moses and Rosalie take advantage of the intimacy of their living arrangement and engage in intercourse, unaware that Honora is eavesdropping. Shocked by this display of debauchery, Honora vows to cut the family's financial ties loose unless Moses learns some responsibility and goes out into the world to make his own way. And so he leaves St. Botolphs to go to Washington to get a job, and Coverly sneaks away from his parents to accompany him.
The two boys go their separate ways and each ends up married but in very different milieus with different sets of values. Coverly marries a poor Southern girl, becomes a technician on a rocket-launching site, and takes up residence in a homogenized modern suburb. His new life represents the modern (as of the 1950's), technical, practical, utilitarian world. It is taken even further into classic Cheeveresque territory when Coverly considers a ... relationship after his wife abandons him.
Cheever's proclivity for ironic romanticism is represented in Moses's new life, which is quite a contrast to his brother's.
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