John Cheever's stories are mostly about upper-middle class Americans who live in the suburbs of New York and are unhappy people. They drink a lot, have affairs, and are usually very flawed, but you can imagine that they were real people. It's easy to see what kind of subjects Cheever liked to write about the most. I recommend reading this over the course of a few months and choosing one or two stories at a time. I read them all in a row, which was still enjoyable, but you start to forget what happened in them because they have similar characters and circumstances. Also it is a lengthy book (700 pages). 'The Swimmer' is definitely one of the best; some others I liked are 'The Enormous Radio', 'The Sutton Place Story', 'The Summer Farmer', 'Torch Song', 'Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor', 'The Chaste Clarissa', 'The Cure', 'The Duchess', 'The Scarlet Moving Van', 'The Music Teacher', 'Clementina', and 'Metamorphoses I'.
"Oh, those suburban Sunday nights. Those Sunday-night blues!"
While John Cheever wrote some acclaimed novels, especially the two Wapshot books, his reputation rests on his generally excellent short stories. Like Updike, Yates, and John O'Hara, Cheever mapped out the emotional territory of usually white, upper-middle class men and women living in the suburbs, quietly watching their lives slip away, drinking too much, and having sad affairs. "Mad Men" definitely draws from this rich vein of American lit. With characters traveling to Rome, vacationing in the Hamptons, and having maids, his stories do have a whiff of East coast patrician privilege, but it's a minor complaint. "The Swimmer" remains one of his best and one of the best short stories of the 20th century.
"The Enormous Radio," "Goodbye, My Brother," "The Country Husband," "The Five-Forty-Eight," "The Swimmer, & "Reunion" only. LOVED "The Enormous Radio" & "The Swimmer."
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