The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century
A Composite List and Ranking
by Brian Kunde


<- Cheever, John, 1912-1982.
         American novelist, short story writer and teacher born in Quincy, Massachusetts who wrote about the emptiness of life, particularly as experienced by middle class suburban Americans. Noted for his ironic humor. Best known for the Wapshot books and The Stories of John Cheever (1978), a collection that won the Pulitzer Prize. Father of novelists Susan and Benjamin Cheever.
  • <- The Wapshot Chronicle. 1957.

             [Note: as originally published, the Modern Library list references The Wapshot Chronicles (plural), while the Library Journal list references The Wapshot Chronicle (singular). If the former is not a typographical error, it is possible that the plural is intended to refer to the combined edition (1979) of The Wapshot Chronicle with its sequel The Wapshot Scandal. More likely the plural is a simple error, as the combined edition was issued not as The Wapshot Chronicles but as The Wapshot Chronicle/The Wapshot Scandal. Thus, this is presumably not a sneaky attempt by the Modern Library to get both works into its list! Be that as it may, to cover all bases both works are treated below. The Wapshot novels are about an eccentric family living in a Massachusetts fishing village.]

             The Wapshot Chronicle (1957) concerns the journey to adulthood of brothers Moses and Coverely Wapshot, as aided and misabetted by their father and various other family members and characters. Cheever was primarily a short story writer, and this shows in the choppy pacing and the time it takes him to get down to the main story. Won the National Book Award in 1958.
             The Wapshot Scandal (1964) continues the story of the characters from the first book, particularly Cousin Honora, as well as introducing new characters. It also starts out slowly, but picks up steam as the author increases the pressure on his creations and starts laying on the plot twists. Was awarded the Howels Medal in 1965.

Posted Jul. 25, 2005, and last updated Mar. 27, 2013.
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Published by Fleabonnet Press.
The source list data is public domain.
Additional material © 1999-2013 by Brian Kunde.