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The Letters of John Cheever
     

The Letters of John Cheever

by John Cheever, Benjamin Cheever (Editor)
 

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• A revealing self-portrait: In addition to his novels and short stories, John Cheever wrote a prodigious number of letters—sometimes thirty in a week. In The Letters of John Cheever , edited and annotated by his son Benjamin, Cheever reveals his most private thoughts to friends, famous writers, family, and lovers—all of whom he

Overview

• A revealing self-portrait: In addition to his novels and short stories, John Cheever wrote a prodigious number of letters—sometimes thirty in a week. In The Letters of John Cheever , edited and annotated by his son Benjamin, Cheever reveals his most private thoughts to friends, famous writers, family, and lovers—all of whom he encouraged to discard what he wrote. “Saving letters is like trying to preserve a kiss,” he said. As a result, these letters form a story that is even more candid than his journals, and as vivid and human as any he ever invented..

• An intriguing literary icon: Cheever, a complex and contradictory man, “was an adulterer who wrote eloquently in praise of monogamy … a bisexual who detested any sign of sexual ambiguity.” Cheever was a stranger to those closest to him and presented to the world what he thought it wanted to see. These letters display the stark contrast between his ambitions and weaknesses, while tracing his evolution as an artist. .

Editorial Reviews

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

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439164648
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
07/21/2009
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.99(d)

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

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