book review
Bobzeen > literature > cheever stories

John Cheever's Stories


I picked up the Cheever collection thatís been on my shelf most of my lifetime and read another twenty or so of the stories. I didnít remember much of an impression from my dabbling in Cheever thirty or more years ago. I discovered an amazing talent with sophisticated layers of insights into suburban modern life that I probably never noticed when I last read Cheever in the early 1980s.

Cheever is both jarring and sparkling, artistic and surgical, detached and deeply involved. Cheever draws the reader into very close proximity to his characters. He is writing about the city, the neighborhood, the living room with cocktails, and the individuals with entrenched social identities and qualities of the place and time. He brings them to life with the blazing banality of a moment in everyday life; with severe detours from comfortable banality; and very awkward scenes steeped in blasť, all with inventiveness depicting the uniqueness of the charactersí particular circumstances.

Cheever gives us brilliant accuracy in the details of the personalities, conditions, disappointments, hopes, emptiness, filled with universals of life that reach every human from anyplace and anytime.

Iíve had some great reading experiences in my long and storied life, and itís nice to know Iím still finding more.