Letters of John Cheever

Letters of John Cheever

by John Cheever
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


John Cheever, novelist, short-story writer, and winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, was "an American master" (The Boston Globe). He was also a prolific writer of letters, sending as many as thirty in a week.

These letters, culled from thousands written to famous writers, his family, friends, and lovers, paint an intimate and

Overview


John Cheever, novelist, short-story writer, and winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, was "an American master" (The Boston Globe). He was also a prolific writer of letters, sending as many as thirty in a week.

These letters, culled from thousands written to famous writers, his family, friends, and lovers, paint an intimate and surprising self-portrait that is as vivid as any character Cheever invented.

Edited and annotated by his son Benjamin, Cheever's letters trace his development as a writer and as a man. They reveal him to be complex, flawed, and full of contradictions. On display are not just his ambitions and weaknesses, or his cloaked bisexuality, but the evolution of his wit and style -- and most of all, his immense love of life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
John Cheever's letters aren't great literaturethey weren't meant to bebut his unmistakable voice comes through on every page. Bristling with his sardonic wit and ``rock-bottom irritability,'' they reveal a man of dark contradictions: an ardent heterosexual in public, Cheever despised his own secret bisexuality; he scorned the upper-middle class but desperately needed its approval. Letters track a romantic affair with actress Hope Lange, a competitive friendship with John Updike and dialogues with Saul Bellow, Josephine Herbst, Malcolm Cowley, Frederick Exley and Philip Roth. In the late 1960s, Cheever's merry, heavy-drinking attitude swiftly turned into family tragedy. Benjamin Cheever, the novelist's son, interweaves affectionate commentaries with the letters, telling what it was like to be reared by a famous writer who was an alcoholic. In the most affecting letters, every word is in place as Cheever paints a real-life character, comments on contemporary fiction or lays bare his frustrations. We follow the writer from a $3-a-week Greenwich Village room to the wilds of Westchester, N.Y. (Dec.)
Library Journal
This breezy, fast-paced correspondence will delight Cheever's fans. Dashed off in a tipsy or rhapsodic haze, without dates or any other thoughts for posterity, these letters focus not on Cheever's work but on ``the common minutiae of lifethe raw materials of most good letters.'' Though occasionally savage toward other writers, the Cheever revealed here is generally light-hearted, warm, and confident. But middle age finds him ``stuck in a morass of alcohol and melancholy,'' and the letters take on a grim undertone; the chief pleasures of his last decade seem to be his open indulgence of his homosexuality and the achievements of his children. On the whole, a splendid, lively book for anyone who likes to read others' mail. Michael Edmonds, State Historical Soc. of Wisconsin, Madison
From the Publisher
"A special dialogue that touches and haunts...A vivid portrait of the writer." — Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"Wonderfully entertaining.... I felt Cheever's presence in this extraordinary collection. The letters are poignant, stirring one's heart...[and] revealing his perfect honesty about his failings and the frailty of his emotional life." — The Washington Post Book World

"Fascinating.... love and light irradiate John Cheever's letters....conventional categories quaver before these passionate outpourings of such quantity and intensity." — New York magazine

"A unique pleasure, one that even biography cannot fully supply — that of watching an artist discover and refine his world from month to month.... His letters convince us that we are in the presence of both a great writer and a good man." — Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780099529644
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/2009

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

John Cheever, novelist, short-story writer, and winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, was "an American master" (The Boston Globe). He was also a prolofic writer of letters, sending as many as thirty in a week.

Benjamin Cheever, the author of four novels and two works of nonfiction, has also been a newspaper reporter and an editor at Reader's Digest. He lives in Pleasantville, New York, with his wife and sons.

Brief Biography

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

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >