For readers compeled by Cheever's recurring themes throughout his short stories probing dysfunctional suburban middle-class families this book won't disappoint. But here, Cheever turns his attention to a heroin-addict named Ezekiel Farragut imprisoned at Falconer, a grey obsolescent "correctional facility," for fratricide. Deeply critical of modern forms of punishment, and drawing on his own experiences as teacher at Sing-Sing in the 70s, Cheever depicts a plutonian world of iron and concrete and dripping pipes where the forgotten and forgettable are kept behind bars, their humanity supressed and marginalized. Ezekiel, or Zeke, comes from a genteel family fractured after a reversal of fortunes that closely resembles Cheever's own family and childhood. The story of Zeke's wayward brother, his gas attendant mother and disconnected father deftly weaves in and out of his year-long death in Falconer and finally his gripping and unexpected rebirth, somewhat reminiscent of a modern Crime and Punishment. In spite of the book's difficult subject matter, the dark sides of humanity and society and relentless dealings with hopeless characters and rather sordid scenes, Cheever succeeds in drawing in his captive reader and forces us to ask tough questions about ourselves and the retributive society we live in. An important read, but not for the fainthearted!
Using my own pitiful skills to write about Cheever is a bit too intimidating, so I'll quote the backcover of this amazing book: "Ezekiel Farragut is a college professor, a heroin addict, a sexual adventurer and killer -- locked behind the bars of Falconer prison for the death of his brother. He has survived loneliness, brutality, his own fierce anger and the malice of a beautiful, bitchy wife. He will discover more hope, more love, mor of his own human compassion -- miraculously--locked behind the bas of Falconer prison."
Amazing work by one of the literary greats of our times. Don't miss it.
Some insight into prison life...but I didn't see "redemption" in the main character. I didn't feel this was a great novel.
Ezekiel Farragut is a college professor, a heroin addict, a sexual adventure and a killer - locked behind bars of Falconer prison for the death of his brother. He will discover more hope, more love, more of his own human compassion - miraculously, locked behind the bars of Falconer prison than he has know in his entire life.