I first read this book ten years ago when I was squatting in Kentish Town, and it seemed true then and it seems even truer now. Cheever knew that a novelist's job was to do several things at the same time, but he never managed it quite so sweetly until this book. Like its contemporary, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Falconer" is set in an American prison in the early 1970s. Just as Ken Kesey went to work in a prison to find an outlet for his vision of an alternative America, Cheever went to his local jail, but the results are startlingly different. All of Cheever's beautiful obsessions - with addiction, failed marriages and sexy men - come out in this book. Farragut, the hero of the novel, is an otherworldly guy for whom life has been a series of seminars and skiing trips. Confronted with himself in prison, he accepts his bisexuality and in real rhapsodic style embraces Jody, the man he hooks up with. Cheever captures the sordidness and loveliness of American life with wit and elegance and charm, and we are led through a series of bizarre scenarios to the hero's eventual redemption. It is hard to think of a more cover-breaking moment in a writer's life than "Falconer" - it is a novel that is literally lit up with the author's honesty. Hearteningly, it was also the moment when Cheever achieved visible success, won the prizes and was recognised for what he was: the natural heir to Hemingway and Fitzgerald.