By Blake Bailey
From the acclaimed writer of a sad Honesty: The existence and paintings of Richard Yates comes the unforgettable lifetime of John Cheever (1912–1982), a guy who spent a lot of his profession impersonating an ideal suburban gentleman, the higher to turn into one of many optimal chroniclers of postwar the United States. “I used to be born into no actual class,” Cheever mused in his magazine, “and it used to be my selection, early in existence, to insinuate myself into the center classification, like a secret agent, in order that i'd have an constructive place of assault, yet I look from time to time to have forgotten my challenge and to have taken my disguises too seriously.” Written with exceptional entry to crucial sources—including Cheever’s significant magazine, just a fraction of which has ever been published—Blake Bailey’s biography unearths the yet surprisingly cute guy at the back of the disguises, an artist who thrilled within the daily radiance of the realm whereas craving, in particular, “to be illustrious.”
Cheever’s was once a soul in clash: he was once a proud Yankee who flaunted his lineage whereas deploring the provincialism of his Quincy, Massachusetts, kin circle; a high-school dropout who released his first tale at eighteen; a pioneer of suburban realist fiction who consistently driven the limits of realism; a dire alcoholic who recovered to write down the good novel Falconer; a mystery bisexual who struggled along with his longings and his fierce homophobia in a revolving door of self-loathing and hedonism. We see a guy who hid his anxieties in the back of the masks of a genial Westchester squire—a paterfamilias in Brooks Brothers outfits whose global was once peopled by way of mythical writers and lovely ladies (Malcolm Cowley, Saul Bellow, William Maxwell, desire Lange, and John Updike, between them); whose groundbreaking paintings landed him at the covers of Time and Newsweek; a guy whose demons and desperation have been by no means particularly vanquished via the enjoyment he present in his work.
Blake Bailey has written a luminous biography, a revelation of a author of undying fiction and of the fellow in the back of the web page.
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Additional resources for Cheever: A Life
When I read most of the sentence without too much help, he said to my mother, “You’re doing good with him. ” Pleased, my mother reached across me and kissed him on the cheek. ” They both laughed a little a t this. Maybe he liked the extravagance of the idea as much as she did. Then he turned off the kerosene lamp. That night they let me sleep between them. The occasional outbursts of passion that flickered across my childhood were like summer storms. The sky clouded suddenly, thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and I trembled a few moments, then just as swiftly the sky turned blue again and I was basking contentedly in the peace of innocence.
Don’t sit there,’’ she cautioned. ” And that was a dangerous place to be? “Lawsa mercy, child, it’s the worst place in the room during a thunderstorm. 1 came in after the storm and told her I’d been at grandmother’s. “Why don’t you stay on this side of the road where you belong? ” My grandmother thought my mother kept me under too much discipline and delighted in taking me to her cellar pantry and stuffing me with forbidden treats. One afternoon she took me down there in the darkness to feed me on her homemade bread.
After one such clipping I climbed a hill in Brunswick with my father to call at Uncle Tom’s house. Though Uncle Tom was fourteen years older, my father loved and respected him above all his brothers. Maybe it was because he saw in Tom the blacksmith some shadow of the blacksmith father who died when my father was only ten. Maybe it was because Tom, living in such splendor with his indoor bathroom and his Essex, had escaped Morrisonville and prospered. Maybe it was for Tom’s sweetness of character, which was unusual among Ida Rebecca’s boys.