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Wapshot Chronicle,The(CD)Lib(Unabr.) [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

John Cheever
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 26 2010
When The Wapshot Chronicle was published in 1957, John Cheever was already recognized as a writer of superb short stories. But The Wapshot Chronicle, which won the 1958 National Book Award, established him as a major novelist. Based in part on Cheever's adolescence in New England, the novel follows the destinies of the impecunious and wildly eccentric Wapshots of St. Botolphs, a quintessential Massachusetts fishing village. Here are the stories of Captain Leander Wapshot, venerable sea dog and would-be suicide; of his licentious older son, Moses; and of Moses' adoring and errant younger brother, Coverly. Tragic and funny, ribald and splendidly picaresque, The Wapshot Chronicle is a family narrative in the tradition of Trollope, Dickens, and Henry James.

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

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected Events Happen to Unusual Characters Nov. 1 2001
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time great American masterpieces June 20 2001
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Floats my boat June 11 2001
By A.J.
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars often overwhelming
I've got a thing for John Cheever. Surely one of the best American authors of the 20th century, Cheever has written several books that I've never stopped raving about (see the... Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2002 by asphlex
2.0 out of 5 stars try his stories instead
Somehow, this piffling little wifty novel won a National Book Award in 1958. The, supposedly, tragicomic story of the decline of the Wapshot family--father Leander, a ferry boat... Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2000 by Orrin C. Judd
4.0 out of 5 stars a peak into human nature of the New England kind
The plots and sub-plots of the novel are great vignettes into different aspects of New England society in the early and mid parts of this century. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2000 by Manola Sommerfeld
5.0 out of 5 stars Of WASPs and Wapshots
The two Wapshot novels ("Chronicle followed by "Scandal") are John Cheever's first two novels. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2000 by Allen Smalling
2.0 out of 5 stars Kept waiting for it to start
Let it be known that I listened to this book on cassettes. It may read differently. About 2/3 of the way through, I realized that all the character and place descriptions were... Read more
Published on May 23 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you want to read the 'Wapshot Scandal'
Check this book out! It is easy to follow and the characters are interesting. It was fun to get caught up with the male Wapshots and their relationship with each other.
Published on April 20 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A writer's writer
Cheever is a goldsmith of words, and, if you love language, the sheer pleasure of how he puts them together is enough to carry you though this picaresque family novel. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 1999 by Andrew Rasanen
1.0 out of 5 stars The book is a dud.
Cheever has to be one of America's most overrated writers. Like everything he's done, The Wapshot Chronicle is painfully contrived, rather ineptly written (despite a few clever... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 1998 by rigney@terminal.cz
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