Books: View from the Big House

FALCONER by JOHN CHEEVER 211 pages. Knopf. $7.95.

In the 19th century an American dream was 40 acres and a mule. In the second half of the 20th it is a suburban quarter-acre and a maid. For millions, both dreams have meant a significant step up. But for the major characters in John Cheever's fiction, suburbia is a definite step down. His Wapshot family, for example, traced its lineage to colonial New England and to the patriarchal Leander Wapshot who advised his clan to "bathe in cold water every morning. Relish the love of a...

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