2011: 43. The Wapshot Chronicle

“St. Botolphs was an old place, an old river town.”

The Wapshot Chronicle, John Cheever

           I re-read this, as part of my Modern Library project, and I must, I remembered only the barest outlines (something about two brothers from a small New England town).  And having re-read it, I see why - it really isn’t that memorable of a book.  Cheever’s short stories are so great - and so memorable, that once you’ve read about the man home swimming across his neighbor’s pools, or the woman listening to her neighbors over her radio, it sticks with you.  He so perfectly captures that 1950’s middle class New York/Westchester angst thing (and I mean that sincerely), that no one else really need bother.  But when it comes to the scions of a faded New England town and a faded New England family, well, it’s fine, but that’s all.  This is an ok book - certainly well written, with some evocative prose, but it just sits there. I’ve read other things like it, and better things like it, and I can’t help but think that the ML people thought, oh, Cheever is important, so let’s put his book in, but captured the wrong Cheever.

Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Re-Read


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017