Cheever: A Life

By Blake Bailey

From the acclaimed writer of A Tragic Honesty: The lifestyles and paintings of Richard Yates comes the unforgettable lifetime of John Cheever (1912–1982), a guy who spent a lot of his occupation impersonating an ideal suburban gentleman, the higher to turn into one of many most advantageous chroniclers of postwar the United States. “I was once born into no precise class,” Cheever mused in his magazine, “and it used to be my selection, early in existence, to insinuate myself into the center type, like a undercover agent, in order that i'd have an positive place of assault, yet I look from time to time to have forgotten my project and to have taken my disguises too seriously.” Written with remarkable entry to crucial sources—including Cheever’s great magazine, just a fraction of which has ever been published—Blake Bailey’s biography finds the bothered yet surprisingly cute guy in the back of the disguises, an artist who overjoyed within the daily radiance of the area whereas craving, specifically, “to be illustrious.”

Cheever’s used to be a soul in clash: he was once a proud Yankee who flaunted his lineage whereas deploring the provincialism of his Quincy, Massachusetts, relations circle; a high-school dropout who released his first tale at eighteen; a pioneer of suburban realist fiction who continuously driven the limits of realism; a dire alcoholic who recovered to write down the good novel Falconer; a mystery bisexual who struggled together with his longings and his fierce homophobia in a revolving door of self-loathing and hedonism. We see a guy who hid his anxieties at the back of the masks of a genial Westchester squire—a paterfamilias in Brooks Brothers outfits whose global was once peopled by means of mythical writers and gorgeous girls (Malcolm Cowley, Saul Bellow, William Maxwell, desire Lange, and John Updike, between them); whose groundbreaking paintings landed him at the covers of Time and Newsweek; a guy whose demons and desperation have been by no means particularly vanquished via the enjoyment he present in his work.

Blake Bailey has written a luminous biography, a revelation of a author of undying fiction and of the guy at the back of the web page.

Show description

Quick preview of Cheever: A Life PDF

Show sample text content

Often Cheever most well-liked the corporate of standard guys—illiterate, Southern, or otherwise—whose weekend excessive jinks in Augusta tended to draw the awareness of army police. each weekend town swarmed with squaddies, and Cheever used to be loath to overlook the entire Hogarthian spectacle—the teeming juke joints or even the rather staid areas the place locals attempted to teach their GI visitors a few Southern hospitality: “[We] went to a dance on the Eagle membership, Eyrie quantity seven, think it or not,” Cheever mentioned.

Thank you, Tiny. ’” As for the pressures that experience pushed Farragut to such an outcast country (“Why is you an addict? ”), yes standard Cheeverian bêtes noires are urged. there's, for one, the comically hateful spouse who visits Farragut in legal purely to mock and revile him—part of an outdated dynamic among the 2, as we study from flashbacks. as soon as, Farragut recollects, she'd taken off to Rome with an previous buddy (a lady of “very unsavory sexual reputation”), and whilst he attempted to have fun her go back via cleansing residence and lighting fixtures fires and purchasing vegetation, she replied via curtly soliciting for a Campari: “Campari will job my memory of my misplaced happiness.

Returning to long island (the crash was once outdoor Philadelphia), he encounters his previous buddy hint Bearden at the teach to Shady Hill, however the guy can scarcely credits that Francis has been in a weather-related crash, when you consider that, in spite of everything, that late-September day in long island is as “fragrant and comely as an apple. ” As for Mrs. Weed and their youngsters, they're too “absorbed of their personal antagonisms” to offer Francis a formal greeting, less hearken to his tale approximately miraculously escaping dying. certainly, whilst Francis asks his spouse in the event that they may try out consuming dinner except their squabbling childrens, the girl brings him crashing again to earth in a special experience: “Julia's weapons are loaded for this.

In later years, whilst Cheever may wax nostalgic approximately his early organization with the hot Yorker, he'd declare a detailed acquaintance with Ross and complicated at the man's legend as a cute grotesque—a “scratcher and nosepicker” who used to make Cheever leap in his chair by way of asserting “fuck” much on the lunch desk. “I doubt greatly if these lunches ever took place,” stated Maxwell after Cheever's loss of life, mentioning that Ross stored his distance from fiction writers up to attainable. certainly, it kind of feels the 2 simply spoke in individual as soon as, while Lobrano brought them on the Algonquin.

254 Cheever claimed to were so appalled: JC to Bracher, June 25, 1963, Bancroft. 254 “Mr. Ross don't have liked”: JC to White, March 15 [1958], Bryn Mawr. 254 “at least 3 solid friends”: GT, 103. 255 “a amassing of approximately 1,000 writers”: long island occasions, March 12, 1958, 26. 255 “in a rapid mutter that verged”: Becker to SD, April 30, 1985, Swem. 255 “It is especially gallant of you to come back here”: JC, unpublished manuscript, Berg. 255 “Randall Jarrell, who had simply washed his beard”: GT, 104. 256 “rivals yet no superiors within the nationwide literature”: Jonathan Yardley, “John Cheever's ‘Housebreaker,’ Welcome as Ever,” Washington submit, July 20, 2004, C01.

Download PDF sample

Rated 4.85 of 5 – based on 11 votes