Falconer
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Falconer

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  3,709 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Stunning and brutally powerful, Falconer tells the story of a man named Farragut, his crime and punishment, and his struggle to remain a man in a universe bent on beating him back into childhood. Only John Cheever could deliver these grand themes with the irony, unforced eloquence, and exhilarating humor that make Falconer such a triumphant work of the moral imagination.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 15th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1977)
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Kemper
Falconer Correctional Facility certainly sounds dreary and no place I’d want to spend any time, but it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as many fictional prisons. In fact, it seems pretty dull. There weren’t any beatings from brutal guards. There’s no racial tension evident. No one gets shivved or shanked. The only riot in the story actually takes place at another prison and isn’t discussed in detail. There’s no escape tunnels being dug through walls. Compared to fictional prisons like Oz or Shawshank...more
Ian
A novel of bracing honesty, above all. Cheever's matter-of-fact reporting and his characters are both frank and entirely convincing. I've heard Falconer described as a tale of redemption, but frankly I found little evidence of transformation in Farragut himself. He is an egoïste in the latter part of his life, whose tastes and desires are fully formed and which he has no intention to change, though in Falconer he must learn to live with infrequent satisfaction. (His libido in particular is remi...more
Emily
It was inevitable, I suppose, that Cheever write a prison novel (a compelling prospect, theoretically), but aside from some moments of wonderful prose, this story of an incarcerated heroin addict wallowing in the pleasurable humiliations of jailhouse eroticism came off as banal, even callow. Instead of orienting the novel firmly in its setting, the prison -- the titular Falconer -- feels more like a pretext than a context, and the characters never really emerge from their arid, rambling monologu...more
Teresa
Farragut acidentalmente, ou não, mata o irmão. É condenado e enviado para Falconer.
Durante o seu tempo de reclusão, recorda o seu passado, vive o seu presente e conquista o seu futuro.

Um belíssimo romance sobre a paixão, o desejo e o amor.
“Farragut desenvolveu uma sensibilidade sobrenatural ao simples chiar dos ténis do amante. Havia noites em que lhe parecia que a vida dependia desse som.”

Mas, acima de tudo, um livro sobre a maior ambição do ser humano: a Liberdade.
“Levantou bem a cabeça, end...more
Poingu
This is the third time I've read Falconer. The first was in college--I had just met John Cheever at a reading and the book had just been published and everyone, everyone knew it was a masterpiece, including me. If GoodReads had been around I would have given Falconer 5 stars.

I read it again fifteen years later, after everyone had forgotten about it. You could barely find it in bookstores--there was just room enough on the shelves for one Cheever book, by that time, and it was invariably his fat...more
Ben
This book is both inventive and conventional; it would even make a pleasant beach read. John Cheever effectively manages both a broad lyrical range and--do I dare say it?--a plot! Yes, it can be done. Falconer wrestles out many of the sordid details of a heroin addict sentenced to prison for fratricide (the gay lover, the methadone, the riots, the cat killing) with a prosody that seems somehow unattainable. And, it's not by any stretch a victim's story. Where Cheever excels is where he is able t...more
Kirstie
Jan 16, 2012 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fans of Cheever, those interested in prisoners
This is an interesting novel and about a subject that isn't written about too often..it takes place within the confines of a prison and there's a great deal of characterization of the prisoners and their stories as well as the philosophical thinking of the protagonist, who perhaps accidentally killed his brother and his addicted to methadone. There's some ideas of prisoner's rights as well as memories, a homosexual love affair, a clergy visit, and even a little of revolution but it leaves you wi...more
Dan
While I enjoyed Cheever's writing (as a thing in itself), the subject matter of this particular work may be a bit "over-the-top" for more reserved / conservative / thematically sensitive readers (or somewhat age-inappropriate for folks less than 16-18). Cheever explores some interesting aspects of institutional imprisonment, drug abuse, psychology, homosexuality, and violence in such a way (and with such detail) it is difficult to imagine that Cheever is not speaking from personal experience......more
Rachel
Saul Bellow called Falconer elegant, pure, and indispensable. John Updike said it gives us back our humanity. Newsweek calls it a masterpiece. I would also like to sum it up just as succinctly, but I don't know how to spell that farting noise you can make with your armpit.

Ezekial Farragut is a wealthy upper-class heroin addict imprisoned in Falconer Prison for killing his brother. The narrative shifts back and forth between the day-to-day realities of prison life (which seem to aim for Kafkaesq...more
Fionnuala
Beautiful prose (won a Pulitzer), but very dated. Like so many American novels of the 70s, this is a very enclosed book, drilling down into a flawed man's consciousness. No credible women characters (perhaps fair enough as is set in a prison), a glorification of drugs and alcohol, crazily unbelievable plot twists, lots of short-story style interludes. I could forgive all those flaws if there was a bit of verve to the book, but it is grimly Great American Novel Serious. Sorry, buster, but I've mo...more
Michael
This isn’t your typical correctional facility; in fact Falconer Correctional Facility is very boring, there is nothing happening, just a bunch of lonely men trying to make it through their sentences. No brutality, no abuse and the only riot that happens in the book is just as boring as the rest of prison life. The main character; Farragut is convicted of murdering his brother; he is from a formally rich family and a drug addict. The whole book is about him and his desire for methadone; nothing e...more
Jesse
A book about a prisoner named Zeke Farragut, Falconer is one of those antiquated "classics" in which the story is more centered around meandering thoughts and loose memories than any real description of the people and places that Farragut interacts with. The prose is exceptional however, but Cheever's style is much too poetic and rambling to connect with most people these days. Even though I called it antiquated, it was only written in 1977 which doesn't make it ancient or anything, but someone...more
Randy
So here, then, is a John Cheever's great penal novel. Or should I say, penile novel. Yes, yes, the pun is too obvious to be anything but unfunny. But it's just shouting from the eaves to be thrust into the spotlight.

This is primarily because on cannot turn a page without finding cocks, balls, erections, ejaculations, peckers, dicks, tumescences, foreskins, pissings, and yes, at least one anal intrusion by a phallic object.

What would I expect, I suppose, from a prison novel. I've heard that song...more
Insidebooks


This is not a particularly easy story to read. The tale of a man who kills his brother, is addicted to drugs and ends up in prison is not perhaps the ideal way to create a scenario and character that will lead to reader's hearts. But you find yourself on the side of Farragut despite all these things.

He describes how and why he became addicted to drugs - fed them during the war and then existence in a society that seems to be drugging the population in some form or other - and you find yourself h...more
Tony
Cheever, John. FALCONER. (1977). ****. This was a re-read of a book I first read when it came out over thirty years ago. When I was reading the recent biography of Cheever by Blake Bailey, I was amazed at the praise heaped on this novel. I didn’t remember it as being all that great – at least not next to most of Cheever’s earlier work. So...I read it again. It’s not as good as his early work, though it is well written. I think all the hullabaloo was caused by the subject matter, which was very d...more
Aprile
Sembra un romanzo autobiografico, preciso, chiaro, non vi sono esitazioni, si ha l’impressione che l’autore scriva di cose che conosce bene. Al tempo stesso il tono è distaccato, come se i fatti raccontati si riferissero a parecchi anni prima. Sembra che l’autore relazioni l’esperienza fatta da un amico che lo mette al corrente in un’unica seduta, in un intenso pomeriggio, senza dovizia di particolari ma badando solo all’essenziale. Sono giornate, mesi di vita in carcere di assassini, di uomini...more
Damon Garr
How much context should we bring to a novel? Should we consider the writer's other works? Should the author's biography inform the reading of a particular novel?

I would like to read a book independent of its context. While the text may have an historical context that comes from without, what we should care about is within the text. Yet, when I read John Cheever's Falconer I couldn't help but consider the author's other work. The novel is so different from what I think of as John Cheever.

The nove...more
Ian
Falconer, John Cheever's best novel, is nothing less than a 20th-century classic, a story of human failure and redemption by one of the best fiction writers in American literature. Ezekiel Farragut arrives at Falconer prison, convicted of murdering his brother, Ebenezer. Farragut, a college professor, an intellectual, and a drug addict, has methodically cut himself off from the people in his life. He is selfish, nacissistic, aloof, egotistical in the extreme, and devoted to one thing: feeding hi...more
Mike
I kind of wish that there were half star ratings on this site, because I feel emphatically 3 1/2 about this, but it seems a shame to stick it with a paltry 3.

This novel is distinctly American...which left me fairly hot or cold on it. Cheever uses very spare language that is occasionally flecked with powerful imagery to get across the story of a heroin addicted, college professor fratricide stuck in prison. It is certainly unsparing in its look into Farragut's (the main character) life which is w...more
Daniel G.
The bookseller who showed me where this book was located said that it was a really good read.

College professor Ezekiel Farragut is sent to prison because he's a heroin addict and sexual adventurer. This novel tells of his time in prison before his trial.

The prose to this has a nice rhythm and it's one of those books that you need to read many times to fully appreciate. I can see it's good, and I like it, but I can't put my finger on why on this first reading. One thing I liked was that despite d...more
Monica
Wow!

I put this review off for a couple of days because I don't really know what to say to review this as I don't think that my words can do this justice. I will try anyway.

We go to Falconer Prison where our main character Farragut is currently housed for his crimes in the community. Being a drug addict and killing his brother, Farragut has more problems then even that would suggest. Cheever does an amazing job portraying the criminal thinking, the blaming, the innocence and immaturity, the hope...more
Sean Owen
I've enjoyed Cheever's short works, but this short novel falls flat. Farragut's imprisonment is intended as a parallel for the moral failings of certain type of debauched upper middle class WASP. This type of class is such a historical artifact as to be recognizable as something only encountered in a certain genre of novel. The centrality of this to the book makes the whole thing hopelessly outdated.
Joe Krudys
This was on Time's Top 100 List? I'm not sure I see why. It's not that the book wasn't good, it just wasn't great. Farragut seemed to be a drug addicted hollowed out soul going through the motions of surviving in prison, and nothing more, which was probably the point, but I felt both a lack of character depth and a plot, and I at least like to have one of those in a book. Aside from these flaws, it was still a book that kept my attention throughout, and I did like the writing, so I wouldn't say...more
Darwin8u
There is something both unsettling and beautiful about this compact Cheever novel. A novel of punishment and redemption, Falconer is also a story of addiction, of confinement, of an introspective man moving from his isolated past to his very human present. It is hard to compare Cheever's style to anyone, but there were moments where I felt I was floating in the same literary river as O'Connor, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Percy. His prose is amazing, his imagination is sharp, and the depth of his so...more
Jack Lindgren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Landry
A gritty and intelligent prison narrative. I was also pleased to discover that this book was not about falconry
Kerry
This book is not, primarily, a prison novel. "Falconer" does touch on some common tropes of prison novels and, indeed, a number of parallels can be drawn between "Falconer" and Stephen King's "Rita Haysworth and Shawshank Redemption". Both main characters come from relatively moneyed pasts, they are not career criminals, and both end up with clerical jobs within the prison allowing them some privileges. There are, of course, differences. Farragut is guilty, importantly so, and has a severe heroi...more
Bryan
Ezekiel Farragut is serving a life sentence in Falconer State Prison for killing his brother. Farragut is, or rather was, a university professor and heroin addict, living in a loveless marriage and a loveless life. The book follows Frragut as he struggles to live with his addiction, with his loneliness and with his loss of freedom. For whatever reason, when I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be likeThe Shawshank Redemption.I'm not sure if I was expecting a sequel, or the nove...more
Andrew
"The cream of the post-Freudian generation were addicts. The rest were those psychiatric reconstructions you used to see in the back of unpopular rooms at cocktail parties. They seemed to be intact, but if you touched them in the wrong place at the wrong time they would collapse all over the floor like a spatchcocked card trick."

"'Goodbye, sweetheart,' he said. 'Goodbye,' said Farragut. His feelings were chaotic and he might have cried, but he might have cried at the death of a cat, a broken sho...more
Shelly Sanders
Book review of Falconer by John Cheever

Published in 1975, Falconer is timeless with its story about a man struggling to retain his core while imprisoned for murder. This inmate--Farragut--is immediately seen as more educated than his fellow prisoners, more travelled, more introspective. But he is also a drug addict, which at times seems contrary to his character. As Farragut descends further into an inmate's life, though, we see that his flaw of being an addict has underlined his entire adult li...more
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The Bookhouse Boys: * Falconer discussion thread 8 6 Apr 14, 2014 05:54PM  
What's The Name o...: prison sex and drugs?[s] 4 43 Feb 11, 2012 08:04PM  
FALCONER by Cheever 2 24 Jan 15, 2012 04:02PM  
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7464
John Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer, sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs" or "the Ovid of Ossining." His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the suburbs of Westchester, New York, and old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born.

His main themes include the duality of human nature:...more
More about John Cheever...
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“Long ago when they first invented the atomic bomb people used to worry about its going off and killing everybody, but they didn't know that mankind has enough dynamite right in his guts to tear the fucking plant to pieces.” 7 likes
“Chicken began to cry then or seemed to cry, to weep or seemed to weep, until they heard the sound of a grown man weeping, an old man who slept on a charred mattress, whose life savings in tattoos had faded to a tracery of ash, whose crotch hair was sparse and gray, whose flesh hung slack on his bones, whose only trespass on life was a flat guitar and a remembered and pitiful air of "I don't know where it is, sir, but I'll find it, sir," and whose name was known nowhere, nowhere in the far reaches of the earth or in the far reaches of his memory, where, when he talked to himself, he talked to himself as Chicken Number Two.” 1 likes
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