Monday, April 13, 2009
I read Cheever's collected stories approximately 22 or 23 years ago. I liked them a lot, with their sad suburban men trapped in a variety of metaphoric prisons. One story, "The Country Husband," sticks with me particularly because I've re-read it for classes I've taken and taught. One image from that story sticks: a labrador retriever dressed in doll's clothes by a neighborhood brat, walking through yards trying to shake off its costume. This image neatly summed up the main character's predicament.
In Falconer, Cheever replaces metaphoric prisons with the real deal. Farragut is a professor and rides the horse. He beats his brother to death with a fire iron and ends up doing hard time. The book is by turns sad, tender, and hilarious, with rants worthy of Stanley Elkin or Philip Roth. I'd thought of Cheever as quieter than this book. Good stuff, a breeze to read.