Thirteen Uncollected Stories

Thirteen Uncollected Stories

by John Cheever
     
 

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This is the first new collection of John Cheever stories in more than fifteen years, and the first time these stories have ever been collected. Originally published in the 1930s and 1940s in magazines which run the gamut from obscure leftist literary periodicals, through The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly, to mass circulation glossies like Colliers and… See more details below

Overview

This is the first new collection of John Cheever stories in more than fifteen years, and the first time these stories have ever been collected. Originally published in the 1930s and 1940s in magazines which run the gamut from obscure leftist literary periodicals, through The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly, to mass circulation glossies like Colliers and Cosmopolitan, these stories deal with themes and use techniques which are not generally considered to be "Cheeveresque." They will undoubtedly surprise those readers familiar only with Cheever's post-1947 work. Each of these early stories bears the unmistakable stamp of the master storyteller. "Bayonne" is an evocative character study of a waitress whose work serving blue-collar regulars in a diner provides her with more emotional than financial support. "In Passing," which ends with the radical organizer Girsdansky haranguing a small unmoved crowd on the Boston Common at twilight, reveals perhaps more about states of mind during the Depression than standard histories of that era. "Fall River" is an elegy on economic catastrophe in a backwater New England town: Cheever calls up a picture of a wasteland with abandoned factories where "the looms blocked off the floor like discarded machinery in an old opera house." "The Autobiography of a Drummer" is a remarkable portrait of a man who has outlived his time. It anticipates Arthur Miller's Willy Loman by more than a decade. In this intriguing collection, Cheever plunges us into a stark world; the scenes are reminiscent of Edward Hopper. It is a world of foreclosures, down-and-outs, burlesque shows, desperate gamblers, and deferred hopes. It adds a new dimension to the assessment of John Cheever's considerable reputation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Having failed in a previous effort to publish a much larger collection because of opposition from the Cheever family, the publisher here offers a truncated selection of stories now in the public domain. This is still a book well worth having, showing the earliest work of a writer who went on to greater things but who even in his creative youth showed ample evidence of his gifts. The earliest stories, written when the author was barely out of his teens, are heavily influenced by Hemingway and the dour social realism of the Depression. With ``The Autobiography of a Drummer'' (1935), however, though the social conscience remains, a real voice, capable of remarkable mimicry, is emerging. This is a short, painful tale with something of the impact of Death of a Salesman . And ``In Passing'' (1936), a touching parable about a crumbling family and a rootless Communist agitator, has real force. ``Bayonne'' and ``The Princess'' are well-observed character sketches of tough-vulnerable women of the time, and ``The Man She Loved''--set, like several of these stories, in Saratoga, where Cheever was a resident at the Yaddo writers' colony--shows how cleverly he can build surprising confrontations by indirection. It is always good to see a great writer advancing in his craft, and it is a shame the collection could not have been much more extensive. (Mar.)
Library Journal
These stories were nearly all published in the 1930s by a very young Cheever. Several are Depression tales, set in dead mill towns or waterfront diners and informed by leftist politics; they could serve as fictional accompaniments to Edward Hopper's paintings. Others are set among the Saratoga horse-racing set and appeared in such commercial magazines as Collier's. Surprisingly, women are at the center of many of the stories--strong women, such as the 52-year-old stripper in ``The Teaser,'' who are at a point of crisis in their lives. We can see Cheever exploring style, beginning most obviously with Hemingway, then moving on to Fitzgerald, with Joycean bits here and there. A fascinating example of one writer's beginning; appropriate for Cheever fans at academic and large public libraries.-- Brian Kenney, Brooklyn P.L.
Brad Hooper
From the ashes of a legal fire storm arises this diminished phoenix. Some half-dozen years ago, Academy Chicago and the widow and children of the late John Cheever agreed to be partners in a significant publishing project, the collection of 68 of Cheever's previously uncollected short stories. Disagreement between the publisher and the family arose before the book could be released, and the dispute was taken to court; eventually, Academy Chicago was prohibited from publishing the collection. What Academy now has published is not what it first had in mind; as the title indicates, only 13 stories are gathered here, and they are in the public domain (and thus available to any publisher for reprinting). Cheever wrote these stories in the 1930s and 1940s, and they are definitely apprentice work. Other than the fact that his distinctively mellifluous voice has yet to be found, the other most noticeable aspect of these pieces is that the subject matter he was most known for--the ways and means of middle-class suburban America--was yet to be his chief concern. Depression issues--poverty, unemployment, grim and gray surroundings--fill these stories. Nonetheless, immature Cheever is still better than most fully mature fiction writers, and all fiction collections should consider purchasing this attractively bound and presented little book.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"...if -- especially if -- you own his collected stories, you will want to have these."
Hillel Italie
"...offers a chance to track the personal and professional development of a master storyteller." -- Associated Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780897333108
Publisher:
Chicago Review Press, Incorporate
Publication date:
09/01/1988

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