When a book is described as 'The great American novel' it sets expectations. Naturally you start reading expecting to be impressed by the writing but it perhaps makes you read it with an open mind. If a book is great it's rather pleasing to come to that conclusion yourself rather than being told from the start.
Still getting past the blurb, and not having read any Cheever before, my mind was still fairly open. It didn't remain that way for long as the description, character and plot started to emerge.
This is a really good read. From the moment it starts describing the statue above the entrance to the prison and court house you are drawn into the dirty desperate world of the convict. That Farragut has killed his own brother is made clear from close to the outset as is his drugs problem. It also becomes clear that as a former college professor he is not the usual type that ends up in the Falconer Correctional Facility.
That Facility unfolds before the reader as Cheever takes you through the halls, cells and visitor rooms. he does so brilliantly.
bit by bit Farragut starts to face the prospect of losing his sanity. The drug addiction is a major problem but so is he sense of abandonment from people, life and love. He takes another prisoner as a lover and by the halfway point seems to have settled into some sort of equilibrium. But whether or not he can stay there is another matter.
A full review will come on completion soon