Glad Tidings: A Friendship in Letters

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"We were both born in 1912, the year the Titanic sank and the Democrats regained the White House, and in mid-December 1943 we were both wearing ill-fitting Government Issue with sergeant's stripes when we met in one of the more exotic battle stations of World War II. The old Paramount studio in Astoria, Queens, swarmed with writers, actors, directors, cameramen, cartoonists, film editors and sound technicians working on training and orientation films for the Army Signal Corps." So begins the Introduction to Glad Tidings, a captivating
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Overview

"We were both born in 1912, the year the Titanic sank and the Democrats regained the White House, and in mid-December 1943 we were both wearing ill-fitting Government Issue with sergeant's stripes when we met in one of the more exotic battle stations of World War II. The old Paramount studio in Astoria, Queens, swarmed with writers, actors, directors, cameramen, cartoonists, film editors and sound technicians working on training and orientation films for the Army Signal Corps." So begins the Introduction to Glad Tidings, a captivating self-portrait drawn by John Cheever in letters written to John and Harriett Weaver during the four decades he battled with alcohol, editors, publishers, landlords and bill collectors to feed, clothe and shelter his family. The Weavers' home in the Hollywood Hills, where Harriett "spun the grass and roses," was the sanctuary shielding him from the demons that dominated his journals. "I think you and Harriett and I share some sense of what love amounts to," Cheever wrote in 1924. "I remember standing on the terrace of your old house, by the Cinzano ashtray. The door was open and I heard Harriett flush a toilet and open and close a drawer. The sensation of my aloneness was stupendous. I am, as you both know, quite stupid and callow but I do try to catch myself. It's like chasing someone around a barn." Because these letters span the years between Cheever's first and last books, they offer a consistent and chronological view of his life as a writer: the impecunious early years of his marriage, his devotion to his growing family, his artistic setbacks and successes, his triumph over his addiction to alcohol and his impudent reports on the cancer that ended his life, but not before he had finished Falconer and won the Pulitzer Prize for his farewell collection of short stories. "If I can laugh, I can live," Cheever wrote in one of his last journal entries. Laughter was the mainstay of the enduring friendship recorded in Glad Tidings, a
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Editorial Reviews

Martha Schoolman
Yes, there's more. Many of these letters appeared in "Letters of John Cheever", but this book is offered as much as a memorial to a long friendship between writers as a monument to the usual mixture of pain, humor, insight, and drop-dead beautiful prose found in all of Cheever's informal writing. It is advertised as a book of correspondence, but it is overwhelmingly Cheever. As is well-known by now, Cheever rarely saved letters. As he remarks here, "Most of the people I write to these days make copies of what they send me and file what they receive. This takes all of the fun out of it. It's like pressing a blood-wort in the family Bible. A good letter should be like a daisy in the field charming for the minute, not much to smell and soon dead." Weaver started keeping copies during the last 10 years or so of their correspondence, and they are a good read as well, although the "Dear John . . . Love, John" pattern will keep readers on their toes. This book is charming and well-annotated, so the Johns don't dish too much dirt over our heads. In addition, Cheever's letters here tend to have a lighter touch and more self-deprecating humor than his often-wrenching "Journals". The only criticism that may be leveled at this collection is that the book's introduction and the early notes are a little too detailed, sometimes confusing pertinent facts about the Cheever and Weaver lives with dull domestic trivia.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060169572
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

John Cheever
A master of the short story, John Cheever helped make the New Yorker's fiction section a reliably good read from the 1950s up until his death in the early '80s. Often featuring unhappy, upper-middle-class characters, Cheever depicted the underside of living well with an unwavering eye.

Biography

John Cheever, best known for his short stories dealing with upper-middle-class suburban life, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1912. Cheever published his first short story at the age of seventeen. He was the recipient of a 1951 Guggenheim Fellowship and winner of a National Book Award for The Wapshot Chronicle in 1958, the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Stories of John Cheever, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and an American Book Award. He died in 1982, at the age of seventy.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      May 27, 1912
    2. Place of Birth:
      Quincy, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      June 18, 1982
    2. Place of Death:
      Ossining, New York
    1. Education:
      Thayer Academy

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