Sunday, May 15, 2022

John Cheever: Complete Novels


More on Cheever! I have now finished reading John Cheever's Complete Novels, also in the Library of America edition (902 pages, plus notes and chronology). As I noted about his stories, I feel like this should count for more than one volume ... There are actually 5 novels in this compilation (in order of publication - and presentation):

  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • The Wapshot Scandal
  • Bullet Park
  • Falconer
  • Oh What A Paradise It Seems

At times, the novels felt like short stories, and some of the characters from the novels either previously or subsequently appeared in the short stories.

I feel like the short story was Cheever's metier and real strength in writing. All of his works are "of a time and place." Because it represents both a geography and a time period with which I am familiar, it felt comfortable to me - and likely his writing was well received by "the establishment" since it was so much about them.

I am glad that I read all of his works, and have an appreciation for what he describes. 

Friday, May 06, 2022

John Cheever: Selected Stories and Other Writings - some notes

John Cheever: Collected Stories and Other Writings
 I just finished reading the Library of America's compilation of John Cheever's Collected Stories and Other Writings (1004 pages plus chronology and notes). The stories are more or less chronological in the order of publication, and are grouped by the collections in which they had appeared.

Many of the stories use characters and places which also appear in his novels - which gives a sense of continuity to his writings. He is clearly a gifted story teller. I had one friend ask (early on) if I had read "The Swimmer" (p. 726). I had not at that point, but it is an amazing story, and I commend it.

The Other Writings include works about other authors (Saul Bellow, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Malcolm Cowley) and a great little essay "Why I Write Short Stories." A sentence in that essay struck me a being very important:

"...they are read by discerning and well-informed men and women who seem to feel that narrative fiction can contribute to our understanding of one another and the sometimes bewildering world around us." (p. 996)

*Mic drop*

[In my list of books read this year, I feel like this should count for more than one volume!]