John Cheever
Short story writer, novelist
John Cheever
John William Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs. " His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome. He is "now recognized as one of the most important short fiction writers of the 20th century.
Biography
John Cheever's personal information overview.
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Sizing up the big-shot shorts - Irish Times
Google News - over 5 years
When the city of Cork decided to inaugurate a literary award in his honour, it was not only a celebration of a great native son but also a fine gesture towards a wonderful art form: John Cheever, John Updike, William Trevor and Richard Ford have all
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Tom Shea: Farewell to Bill Morrissey from a fan for life - MassLive.com
Google News - over 5 years
I could use a lot of words to describe Loudon, a genius in a John Cheever, Mad Magazine kind of way, but this column is about his opening act. It's a tough gig being one of those. No one is there to see you. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were
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Midlife Crisis, Jewish Style - The Jewish Week
Google News - over 5 years
Among these are the 1955 film, “The Seven Year Itch,” John Cheever's iconic 1964 short story “The Swimmer” and more recent films “American Beauty” and “Lost in Translation.” Koenigsberg, 27, grew up in Greenwich Village, where his family attended the
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When Fame And My Father Met: Joseph Heller's Own Catch-22 - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
... for whom he's always had great affection: "Nobody ever enjoyed his success more than Joe," and he ought to know, having edited John Cheever, Salman Rushdie, Bob Dylan, Barbara Tuchman, Nora Ephron, Bruno Bettelheim, Toni Morrison, Jessica Mitford,
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Saratoga Seen: Yaddo [VIDEO] - Albany Times Union (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Many renowned artists have spent time working and living at Yaddo — John Cheever, Robert De Niro, Sr., Truman Capote, Langston Hughes, and Sylvia Plath, just to name a few. September 18, Yaddo is opening its doors to the public for the first time
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Famous Authors Related by Blood or Marriage - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Then there's Alice Walker (The Color Purple) and her daughter Rebecca Walker, John Cheever and his daughter Susan Cheever, Kingsley Amis and his son Martin Amis, Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and his son of the same name, brothers Frank McCourt
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Lev Grossman's Favorite Cocktails In Literature - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Even in John Cheever, where everyone is on a permanent gin and tonic IV drip, it's hard to track down a memorable description of the drink itself. But the cocktail has its literary champions, who have risen to the challenge of its cracking ice and its
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How to bring an author back from the dead - Salon
Google News - over 5 years
As Blake Bailey, the author of critically praised books about Richard Yates and John Cheever, drolly put it in a recent interview, "There is a deplorable lack of demand for cinderblock-sized literary biographies in the current market
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Book Review: Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar - New Zealand Herald
Google News - over 5 years
John Cheever, Annie Proulx, Alice Munro, Tobias Wolff, Eudora Welty are surrounded by a scrum of bright young American things. A few see employment in a positive light: "the brief defined conviviality of work". Donald Barthelme has a surreal,
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TACT to Present AR Gurney's CHILDREN And Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS in '11-'12 - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
Loosely based on John Cheever's short story "Goodbye, My Brother," Children probes the heart of one family to discover wider truths about the American social landscape. First produced in London in 1974, Children gave the first glimpse of Gurney's
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Author Adam Ross, visiting Birmingham on Friday, not fazed by plaudits for ... - The Birmingham News - al.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
But don't think that comparisons to John Cheever, John Updike, Raymond Chandler and, by The New York Times, no less, to O. Henry, have gone to Adam Ross' head. “It's lovely, and it's super-flattering, but it doesn't help you or change you when you sit
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Our new era of identity politics - Salon
Google News - over 5 years
The single-family whitetopia of Westchester would provide the raw material for the philandering and alcoholic suburban malaise of novelist John Cheever and AMC's "Mad Men." "In the late '50s and early '60s, a lot of people left New York City,
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We all lie. Will that help catch terrorists? - Toronto Star
Google News - over 5 years
The best of our literature, from the dramas of Shakespeare to the short stories of John Cheever, are laden with lies. As are — pace Jerry Springer and Judge Judy — the worst of modern entertainments. As such, we have almost as many words for the
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Nonfiction review: What There Is to Say We Have Said - Richmond Times Dispatch
Google News - over 5 years
And this collection, which begins in 1942 and ends in 1999, recalls not only writers of the past such as Elizabeth Bowen, John Updike and John Cheever, whom both Maxwell and Welty knew, but a large swath of the 20th century. Maxwell, born in 1908,
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Edward Burgess's letters published in Hamshahri Fiction of June - Iran Book News Agency
Google News - over 5 years
The June issue of Hamshahri Fiction is recently released with stories by Iranian writers Goli Taraghi, Majid Qeysari, Mohammadreza Zamani, American John Cheever and Edward D. Hoch. IBNA: The June issue of the Monthly Hamshahri Fiction (Dastan) was
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10 Classic Movies That Turn Up the Heat for Summer - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Frank Perry's heart-wrenching adaptation of the celebrated John Cheever short story digs under the skin of suburban malaise to reveal a kind of festering wound of disappointment, represented by a man absolutely naked in his psychological trauma
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Golf stories: an oasis and metaphor for the multiple rounds of life - The Seattle Times
Google News - over 5 years
... the enjoyable "Sneaking On." It's a tale about a golfer trying to play his way across town from one course to another — McGrath admits in the foreword that it is a "fairly shameless rip-off" of the John Cheever story "The Swimmer
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John Cheever
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1982
    Age 69
    Cheever died on June 18, 1982.
    More Details Hide Details The flags in Ossining were lowered to half staff for 10 days after Cheever's death. In 1987, Cheever's widow, Mary, signed a contract with a small publisher, Academy Chicago, for the right to publish Cheever's uncollected short stories. The contract led to a long legal battle and a book of 13 stories by the author entitled Fall River and Other Uncollected Stories, published in 1994 by Academy Chicago Publishers. Two of Cheever's children, Susan and Benjamin, became writers. Susan's memoir, Home Before Dark (1984), revealed Cheever's bisexuality, which was confirmed by his posthumously published letters and journals. This was parodied to comedic effect in a 1992 episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld, when the character Susan discovers explicit love letters from Cheever to her father. After Blake Bailey published his biography of Richard Yates, A Tragic Honesty (2003), Cheever's son Ben suggested Bailey write an authoritative biography of Cheever. The book was published by Knopf on March 10, 2009 and won that year's National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography and the Francis Parkman Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer and James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
    Cheever's last novel, Oh What a Paradise It Seems, was published in March 1982; only 100 pages long and relatively inferior (as Cheever himself suspected), the book received respectful reviews in part because it was widely known the author was dying of cancer.
    More Details Hide Details On April 27, he received the National Medal for Literature at Carnegie Hall, where colleagues were shocked by Cheever's ravaged appearance after months of cancer therapy. "A page of good prose," he declared in his remarks, "remains invincible." As John Updike remembered, "All the literary acolytes assembled there fell quite silent, astonished by such faith."
  • 1981
    Age 68
    In the summer of 1981, a tumor was discovered in Cheever's right kidney, and, in late November, he returned to the hospital and learned that the cancer had spread to his femur, pelvis, and bladder.
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  • 1979
    Age 66
    Cheever was awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts by the MacDowell Colony in 1979.
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  • 1978
    Age 65
    The Stories of John Cheever appeared in October 1978, and became one of the most successful collections ever, selling 125,000 copies in hardback and winning universal acclaim.
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  • 1977
    Age 64
    In March 1977, Cheever appeared on the cover of Newsweek with the caption, "A Great American Novel: John Cheever's Falconer."
    More Details Hide Details The novel was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for three weeks.
  • 1975
    Age 62
    Cheever's drinking soon became suicidal and, in March 1975, his brother Fred, now virtually indigent, but sober after his own lifelong bout with alcoholism, drove John back to Ossining.
    More Details Hide Details On April 9, Cheever was admitted to the Smithers Alcoholic Rehabilitation Unit in New York, where he shared a bedroom and bath with four other men. Driven home by his wife on May 7, Cheever never drank alcohol again.
  • 1973
    Age 60
    On May 12, 1973, Cheever awoke coughing uncontrollably, and learned at the hospital that he had almost died from pulmonary edema caused by alcoholism.
    More Details Hide Details After a month in the hospital, he returned home vowing never to drink again; however, he resumed drinking in August. Despite his precarious health, he spent the fall semester teaching (and drinking, both with fellow writer-teacher, Raymond Carver) at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where his students included T. C. Boyle, Allan Gurganus, and Ron Hansen. As his marriage continued to deteriorate, Cheever accepted a professorship at Boston University the following year and moved into a fourth-floor walkup apartment at 71 Bay State Road.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1966
    Age 53
    By then Cheever's alcoholism had become severe, exacerbated by torment concerning his bisexuality. Still, he blamed most of his marital woes on his wife, and in 1966 he consulted a psychiatrist, David C. Hays, about her hostility and "needless darkness."
    More Details Hide Details After a session with Mary Cheever, the psychiatrist asked to see the couple jointly; Cheever, heartened, believed his wife's difficult behavior would finally be addressed. At the joint session, however, Hays claimed (as Cheever noted in his journal) that Cheever himself was the problem: "a neurotic man, narcissistic, egocentric, friendless, and so deeply involved in his own defensive illusions that has invented a manic-depressive wife." Cheever soon terminated therapy. Bullet Park was published in 1969, and received a devastating review from Benjamin DeMott on the front page of The New York Times Book Review: "John Cheever's short stories are and will remain lovely birds... But in the gluey atmosphere of Bullet Park no birds sing." Cheever's alcoholic depression deepened, and in May he resumed psychiatric treatment (which again proved fruitless). He began an affair with actress Hope Lange in the late 1960s.
  • 1964
    Age 51
    Cheever appeared on the cover of Time magazine's March 27 issue, this for an appreciative profile, "Ovid in Ossining." (In 1961 Cheever had moved to a stately, stone-ended Dutch Colonial farmhouse in Ossining, on the east bank of the Hudson.) "The Swimmer" appeared in the July 18, 1964 issue of The New Yorker.
    More Details Hide Details Cheever noted with chagrin that the story (one of his best) appeared toward the back of the issue—behind a John Updike story—since, as it happened, Maxwell and other editors at the magazine were a little bewildered by its non-New Yorkerish surrealism. In the summer of 1966, a screen adaptation of "The Swimmer," starring Burt Lancaster, was filmed in Westport, Connecticut. Cheever was a frequent visitor on the set, and made a cameo appearance in the movie.
    The Wapshot Scandal was published in 1964, and received perhaps the best reviews of Cheever's career up to that point (amid quibbles about the novel's episodic structure).
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  • FORTIES
  • 1957
    Age 44
    With the proceeds from the sale of film rights to "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill", Cheever and his family spent the following year in Italy, where his son Federico was born on March 9, 1957 ("We wanted to call him Frederick," Cheever wrote, "but there is of course no K in the alphabet here and I gave up after an hour or two").
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  • 1956
    Age 43
    In the summer of 1956, Cheever finished The Wapshot Chronicle while vacationing in Friendship, Maine, and received a congratulatory telegram from William Maxwell: "WELL ROARED LION."
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  • 1953
    Age 40
    Cheever's second collection, The Enormous Radio, was published in 1953.
    More Details Hide Details Reviews were mostly positive, though Cheever's reputation continued to suffer because of his close association with The New Yorker (considered middlebrow by such influential critics as Dwight Macdonald), and he was particularly pained by the general preference for J. D. Salinger's Nine Stories, published around the same time. Meanwhile, Random House demanded that Cheever either produce a publishable novel or pay back his advance, whereupon Cheever wrote Mike Bessie at Harper & Brothers ("These old bones are up for sale"), who bought him out of his Random House contract.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1951
    Age 38
    On May 28, 1951, Cheever moved to Beechwood, the suburban estate of Frank A. Vanderlip, a banker, in the Westchester hamlet of Scarborough-on-Hudson, where he rented a small cottage on the edge of the estate.
    More Details Hide Details The house, coincidentally, had been occupied before the Cheevers by another suburban chronicler, Richard Yates. In Scarborough, he was a casual volunteer for the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department.
    In 1951, Cheever wrote "Goodbye, My Brother," after a gloomy summer in Martha's Vineyard.
    More Details Hide Details Largely on the strength of these two stories (still in manuscript at the time), Cheever was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
  • 1948
    Age 35
    Cheever's son Benjamin was born on May 4, 1948.
    More Details Hide Details Cheever's work became longer and more complex, apparently a protest against the "slice of life" fiction typical of The New Yorker in those years. An early draft of "The Day the Pig Fell into the Well"—a long story with elaborate Chekhovian nuances, meant to "operate something like a rondo," as Cheever wrote to his friend and New Yorker editor William Maxwell—was completed in 1949, though the magazine did not make space for it until five years later.
  • 1946
    Age 33
    In 1946, he accepted a $4,800 advance from Random House to resume work on his novel, The Holly Tree, which he had discontinued during the war. "The Enormous Radio" appeared in the May 17, 1947, issue of The New Yorker — a Kafkaesque tale about a sinister radio that broadcasts the private conversations of tenants in a New York apartment building.
    More Details Hide Details A startling advance on Cheever's early, more naturalistic work, the story elicited a fan letter from the magazine's irascible editor, Harold Ross: "It will turn out to be a memorable one, or I am a fish."
  • 1943
    Age 30
    Cheever's daughter Susan was born on July 31, 1943.
    More Details Hide Details After the war, Cheever moved his family to an apartment building at 400 East 59th Street, near Sutton Place, Manhattan; almost every morning for the next five years, he would dress in his only suit and take the elevator to a maid's room in the basement, where he stripped to his boxer shorts and wrote until lunchtime.
    His first collection of short stories, The Way Some People Live, was published in 1943 to mixed reviews.
    More Details Hide Details Cheever himself came to despise the book as "embarrassingly immature," and for the rest of his life endeavored to destroy every copy he could lay his hands on. However, the book may have saved his life after falling into the hands of Major Leonard Spigelgass, an MGM executive and officer in the Army Signal Corps, who was struck by Cheever's "childlike sense of wonder." Early that summer, Cheever was transferred to the former Paramount studio in Astoria, Queens, New York City, where he commuted via subway from his apartment in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City. Meanwhile, most of his old infantry company was killed on a Normandy beach during the D-Day invasion.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1942
    Age 29
    Cheever enlisted in the Army on May 7, 1942.
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  • 1941
    Age 28
    The couple married in 1941.
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  • 1938
    Age 25
    In 1938, he began work for the Federal Writers' Project in Washington, D. C., which he considered an embarrassing boondoggle.
    More Details Hide Details As an editor for the WPA Guide to New York City, Cheever was charged with (as he put it) "twisting into order the sentences written by some incredibly lazy bastards." He quit after less than a year and a few months later he met his future wife, Mary Winternitz, seven years his junior. She was a daughter of Milton Winternitz, dean of Yale Medical School, and granddaughter of Thomas A. Watson, an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell during the invention of the telephone.
  • 1935
    Age 22
    Maxim Lieber became his literary agent, 1935-1941.
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    In 1935, Katharine White of The New Yorker bought Cheever's story, "Buffalo," for $45—the first of many that Cheever would publish in the magazine.
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  • 1934
    Age 21
    Cheever spent the summer of 1934 at Yaddo, which would serve as a second home for much of his life.
    More Details Hide Details For the next few years, Cheever divided his time between Manhattan, Saratoga, Lake George (where he was caretaker of the Yaddo-owned Triuna Island), and Quincy, where he continued to visit his parents, who had reconciled and moved to an apartment at 60 Spear Street. Cheever drove from one place to another in a dilapidated Model A roadster, but had no permanent address.
  • 1933
    Age 20
    In 1933, John wrote to Elizabeth Ames, the director of the Yaddo artist's colony in Saratoga Springs, New York: "The idea of leaving the city," he said, "has never been so distant or desirable."
    More Details Hide Details Ames denied his first application but offered him a place the following year, whereupon Cheever decided to sever his "ungainly attachment" to his brother.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1932
    Age 19
    After the 1932 crash of Kreuger & Toll, in which Frederick Cheever had invested what was left of his money, the Cheever house on Winthrop Avenue was lost to foreclosure.
    More Details Hide Details The parents separated, while John and Fred took an apartment together on Beacon Hill, in Boston.
  • 1926
    Age 13
    Around this time, Cheever's older brother Fred, forced to withdraw from Dartmouth in 1926 because of the family's financial crisis, re-entered Cheever's life "when the situation was most painful and critical," as Cheever later wrote.
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    In 1926, Cheever began attending Thayer Academy, a private day school, but he found the atmosphere stifling and performed poorly, and finally transferred to Quincy High in 1928.
    More Details Hide Details A year later he won a short story contest sponsored by the Boston Herald and was invited back to Thayer as a "special student" on academic probation. His grades continued to be poor, however, and, in March 1930, he was either expelled for smoking or (more likely) departed of his own accord when the headmaster delivered an ultimatum to the effect that he must either apply himself or leave. The 18-year-old Cheever wrote a sardonic account of this experience, titled "Expelled", which was subsequently published in The New Republic." (1930).
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1912
    Born
    Born on May 27, 1912.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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