THE WAPSHOT SCANDAL by John Cheever
Kirkus Star

THE WAPSHOT SCANDAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Not dependent on the award-winning Chronicle (1958), this continues the picaresque experiences of the surviving members of the family, Miss Honora, Coverly and Moses; whose egregious eccentricity was a more prominent feature of the earlier took. While this approach also is a little off center, it is more awry than askew. Miss Honora, indomitable at 70, represents the "surprising abundance of life" but life itself is unaccountable, a "migration" full of random irrelevancies. But there's more to it than just a tilted perspective-- Cheever seems to be haunted by what one critic called the "everpresent danger and the half-felt queerness of contemporary existence". Although there may be some escape through the hot certainties of the flesh, there are still the dusty answers-- "no cure for autumn, no medicine for the north wind"; loneliness is a constant presence, death an occasional one, and above all there's a certain uneasiness with the world as it is. Less so for Honora whose ancien regime has had a fixed, autocratic authority. But Coverly has gone from the very old to the very new- a missile base with its "promethean powers" and menace. And he is saddened by his failure to bring happiness to Betsy. Moses is still more troubled; his Melissa runs off with a young boy, then to Italy, and leaves him with only the sodden solace of the ottle. The current chronology closes with a farewell to St. Botolph's and Honora.... heever, like Updike, is a loner in modern fiction; sui generis, he is also a special taste. But his admirers will again be fascinated by this new book, unstructured as it may be, with its passionate sense of life, its disconsolate awareness of loss, and its writing, much of which is remarkable, and, a word to be used charily, beautiful.
Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 1963
ISBN: 0060528885
Page count: 326pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1963




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