John Cheever

American writer John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982) wrote several novels (The Wapshot Chronicle, 1958, The Wapshot Scandal, 1965, Bullet Park, 1969, Falconer, 1977, and a novella, Oh What a Paradise It Seems, 1982), but believed his work did not stand up against the novels (and the “big, wild, rowdy” world) of his friend Saul Bellow.

Cheever’s forte was the short story. The Stories of John Cheever, a compilation of his short stories, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1979.


John Cheever (and an Olivetti Lettera 32)


Cheever’s main themes include the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character’s decorous social persona and inner corruption, and sometimes as a conflict between two characters (often brothers) who embody the salient aspects of both – light and dark, flesh and spirit.

Cheever himself led a secret life. He was bisexual and, while married to Mary and raising his children, had numerous flings with men and women.

Years after his death he was featured in an episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza inadvertently reveals a girlfriend’s father’s homosexual affair with Cheever.


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