THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLE by John Cheever

THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLE

KIRKUS REVIEW

In a patchwork of family life is the pattern of Captain Leander's belief in the "unobserved ceremoniousness" of life which is a "gesture and sacrament toward the excellence and continuousness of things" and through parts of his diary, episodes in St. Botolph's, at the Wapshots' West Farm (on the New England coast), and in the gropings of his sons, Moses and Coverly, the lineage and heritage come through. Come through from an undated Independence Day to Leander's death after both the boys have left home because of Cousin Honora's financial blackmailing; after Leander has lost, regained and lost again the ferry-boat which was his reason for living; after the daughter -- who was not his -- of an earlier marriage- has tried to claim him; after his wife has converted the ferryboat into a fussy tearoom and gifte shoppe. Through the years Moses has been dismissed from a Washington top secret job, Coverly has become a part of rocket launching as a Taper and been deserted by his wife, and Moses' marriage to the ward of a distant, wealthy, unpredictable, vengeful widowed cousin has had time to turn from bad and then to good when the old harridan's ramparts burn, and the boys make good with sons to claim Honora's promised inheritance. And since the financial security is based on Wapshot virility, the Wapshots have their interest in women from a basically sexual approach; and since their father believes in the romance and nonsense, the joy and the cockiness of living, theirs is an uncharted course -- for Coverly almost turning to homosexuality and Moses trying to maintain some balance in a household of financial dependents. The interludes of Leander's diary and of Honora's disturbances have a tart sting and the whole offers candor and a loving care for men and their concerns in a world tyrannized by women. A rowdy, bawdy, feeling, root-sensed New England gallery, this has its high -- and not quite so high -- moments for an audience which may suffer shock but never shame. Watch the critics.
Pub Date: June 15th, 1957
ISBN: 0060528877
Page count: 372pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1957




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