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.
This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1957 John Cheever; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"The best introduction to Cheever's work...Richly inventive and vividly told." (The New York Times Book Review)
"[John Cheever is] a master American storyteller." (Time)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
"Man is not simple. Hobgoblin company of love always with us."
The Wapshot Chronicle is a twin Bildungsroman of sons Moses and Coverly, framed by the letters, journaling, and loneliness of their father Leander. It is a crazy beautiful 20th Century Great Expectations-like novel of a family's depth and breadth, its secrets and its flaws. The two brothers are saddled with the albatross and obligation to insure ensure that Old Honora’s keeps paying the bills (future) for the boys and (current) for their parents.
Cheever fills his novel with dominating mothers, idiosyncratic and co-dependent guardians, changeable wives and costly lovers. The trinity of Wapshot men, float throughout Cheever's novel in a wayward, rudderless boat. Their lives are constantly taking on water and they seem destined to be blown further from the shore by the dominant humor of the nearest strong-willed female.
The characters in The Wapshot Chronicle were amazing. Its language and narrative were incredible. Cheever's satire and ribald humor constantly bit this reader in his lusty-for-good-literature ass.
I struggled with a busy schedule to find the time to read... however, half-way through I took time out to read Cheever’s short story The Swimmer which, actually, is head and shoulders above this novel.
The literary acclaim which surrounds The Wapshot Chronicle seems disproportionate to the actual achievement contained in this novel - for a start I don’t think by any means it is within the top 60 books of the Twentieth Century.
Equally, the fear - which it is claimed has been completely countered, that the novel is simply a collection of short-stories strung together by a connecting theme of family and the individual members thereof - doesn’t seem in my view to stand up to scrutiny either. This is a long, rambling tome which at times is really quite entertaining and at other times drifts into mediocrity of a sort that is not a feature of Cheever’s concentrated short story form.
Worth reading to get the whole picture on John Cheever, but I’m pretty certain that his reputation lies in his short-story achievement and will continue to do so.
I couldn't understand why this novel would be held in any esteem by anyone. Above all the characters are very dull.
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