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Don’t Get Divorced Like This

John Cheever has a knack for making a serious subject (e.g. life in prison, divorce) and making a humorous situation out of it.

I shared one excerpt from Falconer with you last week–a situation in which Farragut is writing his girlfriend from prison. I find the example in today’s post even funnier, again, in a dry kind of way.

This excerpt is a flashback late in the novel before Farragut is in prison. Eben, Farragut’s punk brother, and his wife are arguing.

“I’m leaving,” she sobbed. “I’m leaving. I don’t have to listen to you anymore.”

“Oh, shut up,” Eben shouted. “Shut up. Shut up. You’ve been leaving me weekly or oftener for as long as I can remember. You started leaving me before you asked me to marry you. My God! Unless you rent space in a warehouse, there isn’t a place in the county with enough room for your clothes. You’re about as portable as the Metropolitan Opera Company’s production of Turandot. Just to get your crap out of here would keep the moving men busy for weeks. You have hundreds of dresses, hats, fur coats, and shoes. I have to hang my clothes in the laundry. And then there’s your piano and your grandfather’s crappy library and that five hundred pound bust of Homer…”

“I’m leaving,” she sobbed. “I’m leaving.”

No one talks like that. “You’re about as portable as the Metropolitan Opera Company’s production of Turandot.” And that’s what makes it funny to me.

Again, Cheever reminds me a lot of Joseph Heller. Though painfully graphic at times, Falconer is a pretty good book. My review is coming on Monday.

Anyone interested in reading Falconer?

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amy #

    I am definitely interested in reading this one. As a former prison psychologist, I enjoy reading books or watching movies (both fiction and non) from time to time that deal with the subject of prison life. Shawshank Redemption is my favorite movie too. I was not familiar with this book until you started writing about it, but it is definitely on my “to-read” list now. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it. – Amy


    March 29, 2012
    • Awesome. Wow, as a prison psychologist, I’m sure you have some interesting stories.

      The book is extremely graphic in places, but it seems authentic. A lot of it is simply the main character thinking back on his past experiences before prison. After all, in prison I guess that’s most of what you do…think.


      March 29, 2012
  2. I’d like to read it as well.


    March 29, 2012
  3. I became really interested in Cheever after reading a biography a couple of years ago. So I have all of his stuff here, ready to read, and just haven’t picked it up, yet. It sounds like I’m really going to enjoy Falconer.


    March 29, 2012
    • I think you will. I knew very little about him before this. He’s mostly a short story writer, I guess, so I’ll be checking those out in the future.


      March 29, 2012

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  1. Book #39: Falconer | 101 Books

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