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The Stories of John Cheever
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The Stories of John Cheever

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  12,375 Ratings  ·  595 Reviews
"These stories," writes Cheever in the preface to this Pulitzer Prize winning collection of stories, "seem at times to be stories of a long-lost world when the city of New York was still filled with a river light, when you heard the Benny Goodman quartets from a radio in the corner stationary store, and when almost everybody wore a hat. Here is the last of that generation ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 819 pages
Published February 12th 1984 by Ballantine Books (first published 1978)
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Jesse Fox This collection isn't a "complete works edition." He wrote at least 172 short stories, 61 of which are collected here. It omits, largely if not…moreThis collection isn't a "complete works edition." He wrote at least 172 short stories, 61 of which are collected here. It omits, largely if not entirely at his request, much of his earlier work (at least 50 stories pre-"The Sutton Place Story," which was first published in 1946). I think your issue will be finding one of his shorter collections that is still in print. If you must do a collection, I like The Brigadier and the Golf Widow, but I would do yourself a favor and read The Stories of John Cheever. Awards don't mean that much, but there's a reason that this collection won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award.(less)

Community Reviews

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Kim-kers
Jun 24, 2008 Kim-kers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Try reading John Cheever all summer and working at a country club. That'll mess with you.
Jacob
Jul 28, 2008 Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
October 2009
Ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
I'm not a very good student of History. I haven't read Herodotus, or Thucydides, or the other great classical historians. But I did see 300, and I spent about five minutes on Wikipedia, so I know a little about the Battle of Thermopylae. There's a monument there, at the site of the battle, with a neat little epitaph in Greek (see above) which, according to one translation, says:
Go tell the Spartans,
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
These stories are primarily about people who suck, but who somehow manage to maintain the appearance of people who don't suck. Eventually, they push their luck and are exposed. Then all the neighbors gossip about them, because it's better to keep the focus on the suckers who've been found out and hope no one finds out you suck just as bad, or worse.

So why am I giving five stars to a collection of stories about people who mostly suck? Because John Cheever DOESN'T suck. He absurdifies common emot
...more
W Perry
Sep 22, 2012 W Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, add2
Straight A's: Alcoholism, Adultery, Abjection [orig. 5/19/16]




Maybe I'd appreciate these stories more if I were cultured enough to truly appreciate stories centered on sadness and broken lives. I did love 3 recent story collections which had a melancholy bent:Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson, Thirteen Ways of Looking: Fiction by Colum McCann, and The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra. To me though, the difference between Cheever and these 3 is the latters' glimpse of hope i
...more
Camille Stein
Apr 06, 2014 Camille Stein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Cheever

The demons that drove John Cheever (Rachel Cooke) | Books | The Observer - http://ow.ly/vIeYv










¿Por qué la vida es para algunos un exquisito privilegio mientras que otros tienen que pagar por asistir al teatro del mundo un precio de cólera, pesadillas e infecciones?

No debemos querer otras cosas aparte de nuestra ocasional comprensión de la muerte y el volcánico amor que nos impulsa a unirnos los unos con los otros.

A menudo mi mujer está triste porque su tristeza no es suficientemente intensa; se
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 18, 2011 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading this book for 18 months. This isn't the kind of book you just grab and set down and read from cover to cover just like I wouldn't think most people would grab the collected works of Shakespeare and read it one brilliant play after brilliant play. I have enjoyed having Cheever by my bedside always available when I needed a break from my other reading endeavors. Cheever is one of those writers that equally encourages me to write and at the same time convinces me that I have no ...more
Betsy Robinson
Jan 05, 2015 Betsy Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
August 22, 2015

As predicted (see earlier two posts, below), it took me months to finish this masterpiece. To reiterate earlier comments, I read from front to back as well as back to front. Not the best idea, it turns out, because the strongest stories are not in the middle. I'm adding this note for two reasons:

First, I googled the one story in sixty-one that I didn't think worked, and I found a wonderful New Yorker piece by Brad Leithauser about Cheever's style and turn of phrase. I was a dram
...more
Cosimo
Sep 02, 2014 Cosimo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La radio fantasma

Leggere questi racconti comporta entrare in contatto con l'inevitabile consapevolezza del mistero della letteratura. Si cerca qualcosa mentre in realtà l'ultima cosa che si desidera è il raggiungerla. Per questo Cheever fa parlare attraverso le pagine i suoi fantasmi, cosciente di metterli in ascolto delle ombre del lettore, come attraverso una radio doppiamente spettrale. Niente suona così familiare come le lievi e allegre apocalissi dei suoi personaggi, i loro pentimenti vital
...more
Alison
Feb 24, 2011 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We read Cheever not because we love stories about the suburbs, but because Cheever shows us that a wild imagination can’t be bound even by the suburbs. We enjoy the quality of observation, the dialogue, the air-tight construction (and what he teaches us about form both in every example and over the course of the collection), but we read him for those moments when his stories take wing to escape cliche, banality, and the mundane.

A few more thoughts on Cheever:
http://alisonkinney.com/2014/07/01/jo
...more
W.B.
Jan 10, 2008 W.B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This author would be in my top twenty list of all time masters of the short story....I like a lot of "uncool" authors like Cheever, Hawthorne, Carver....these are authors I read decade in, decade out, and keep coming away with new experiences, thoughts, the whole palimpsestic layering which is life....so many books and authors achieve a fashionable moment...but I think it's obviously timeliness AND timelessness that have to be achieved to really merit that overused term "masterpiece"...or whatev ...more
Hannah Messler
Dear Mr. Cheever,

While it is unfair 0f me t0 put y0ur b00k 0n my "read" shelf when in fact I 0nly read ab0ut 400 0ut 0f 693 pages, I feel the time has c0me f0r us t0 part.

Y0u are n0t f0r me, Mr. Cheever, th0ugh I tried. Y0u never break 0pen the hearts 0f y0ur characters, which leaves me irritable and half-satisfied. I keep waiting t0 turn the page 0n s0mething m0ment0us, s0mething that will cause my little spirit t0 rise 0r sink with dreadful, unst0ppable m0ti0n.

At best, Mr. Cheever, y0u caused
...more
Aldrin
Aug 22, 2011 Aldrin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aldrin by: 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1979 National Book Critics Circle Award, 1981 National Book Award
Note: The following is not a review of the entire collection. Rather, it's of one of the stories, probably the shortest, in the collection. This story alone, in my view, merits a five-star rating, representative of the rest.

Reunion by John Cheever

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast couldn't have chosen a better specimen of short fiction for its inaugural episode. Aired on May 3, 2007, and hosted by The New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, the episode featured Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Fo
...more
Tosh
Oct 24, 2016 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By chance, because a friend recommended it, I watch the film 'The Swimmer. ' It destroyed me for some odd reason. It is then that I picked up "Collected Stories and Other Writings by Cheever, who was a writer I never even bothered thinking - due to me that he seemed to be a writer in a very boring time in U.S. literary contemporary history. Boy was I wrong. He's an incredible writer, and his short stories are like knife stabs in an opened wound. The first story I read was "The Swimmer," because ...more
Jason Pettus
Aug 21, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

As a general rule, it can be said that the newer an artistic movement, the more difficult it is to fully understand it, because of a lack of both historical distance and "how it really happened" stories regarding important turning points; given this, then, I suppose it's safe to call Postmodernism, history
...more
Judy
Jan 05, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Tajma Haller
Its pretty amazing but this book kept me interested for all 1004 pages of writing. I agreed to read this book as a buddy read with my friend, Tajma. (Don't read this, Tajma, but I really expected I wouldn't like it!) Surprise, surprise. I loved most of Cheever's short stories, preferring his mid-career stories to the later years. I didn't care for his essays in the back of the book much - I believe he writes fiction much better. This is how much I loved this book: I can't pick a favorite story. ...more
Andy
Jul 25, 2009 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where the hell have I been, this guy's a fucking genius. "Torch Song" is amazing, "The Chaste Clarissa" is hysterical, and the asshole elevator boy on Xmas day story has to be read to be believed. Cheever's sense of deadpan humor is sharp as a knife, "The Superintendent" being a great example. I'm only on page 200 but this is pure fucking gold.
Duffy Pratt
Apr 25, 2010 Duffy Pratt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts with a man who almost kills his brother, mainly because he misunderstands the brother. It finishes with a wife who poisons her husband and gets away with it. Cheever writes like an entomologist - his characters are beetles and butterflies who he skewers with a pin before fastening them to the page. But Cheever doesn't seem to have any love for his bugs. Rather, if he feels much of anything for them, he tends to despise them. Often, when they are not thinking about killing one an ...more
Taylor
Jun 19, 2007 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever lived in the suburbs or wanted to live in the suburbs
No one captures the imperfections of suburban, white collar, white bread America like Cheever does. No one. Well, especially in the North. If O'Connor is the Queen of South Suburbia, Cheever is the King of North Suburbia.

"The Swimmer," of course, is his pièce de résistance in this collection, and with good reason - I've been in love with unreliable narrators since. "The Five-Forty-Eight" is another favorite of mine, as is "The Geometry of Love" (loved it so much it's where my AIM screen name com
...more
Jason
Dec 17, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the same vein as Updike and precursor to the "dirty-realism" of Carver, Cheever betrays our expectations by presenting a class of people that on the surface of things have life together. Through unpretentious plots and simple syntax, he stuns his readers by revealing catastrophic and devastating results in otherwise innocuous scenarios. It is almost a form of voyeurism the way he reveals the reality behind our neighbors closed doors. A phenomenal author and unique, revealing perception of Ame ...more
Nicole
This is kind of a cheater review since I didn’t finish the book (this may happen at some point, though it will not be in the immediate future), but not finishing it left me with a few things to say, so here we are.

First, I have to say that I didn’t stop reading because I don’t like the writing. Cheever can render characters content in their discontent with the best of them, and I never expected him to be so funny. I didn’t mark many quotes, but here are two just for kicks:

“When you get to be a
...more
Dan
Apr 01, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of the short story
Recommended to Dan by: Aaron
The stories in this book were inconsistent. The best were masterpieces of the short fiction form. The worst seemed like quick hack jobs to make a deadline. I was irresistibly drawn to the Shady Hill stories, of which there were far too few. On the other hand, I frequently wished that he would get over his Italian obsession and write about New York again. He seemed to have been at his best when writing conservatively with an experimental flair ("The Swimmer" is the perfect example). I do think th ...more
Arhondi
Oct 23, 2015 Arhondi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Cheever's short stories are peeling away at the decay of American suburbia. The dreams, desires and small victories and defeats of every day life make up for a bitter sweet, strong collection of stories, the best of which I did not think was The Swimmer, although obviously it's still a great one. His ability to highlight the cracks on our surface is admirable and all the characters are human and humane. A good read.
Tony
Mar 18, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cheever, John. COLLECTED STORIES AND OTHER WRITINGS. (2009). *****. Timed to come out at about the same time as the biography written by the editor of this volume, Blake Bailey, this is a comprehensive collection by the Library of America. It also has a companion volume that collects Cheever’s novels that you will be seeing on these pages someday soon. In addition to the stories that have been previously collected in “The Stories of John Cheever,” (1978), which I have in my collection, this volu ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Cheever is a brilliant raconteur – one of my most favourite. He excellently knows the stuff our lives are made of.
Although this entire anthology is a gold mine, “The Swimmer” and “The Day the Pig Fell into the Well” seems to be my preferred nuggets.
“This is not an imitation, she thought, this is not the product of custom, this is the unique place, the unique air, where my children have spent the best of themselves. The realization that none of them had done well made her sink back in her ch
...more
Robert
Nov 24, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From "Goodbye, My Brother"

"Oh, what can you do with a man like that? What can you do? How can you dissuade his eyes in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand; how can you teach him to respond to the inestimable greatness of the race, the harsh surface beauty of life; how can you put his finger for him on the obdurate truths before which fear and horror are powerless? The sea that morning was iridescent and dark. My wife and my sister were swimming -- Diana and Helen -- and
...more
Richard
Dec 02, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: so-glad-i-read
This is actually my second time through this book, though the first time, years upon years back, I hadn't given it the attention I should have. I knew some Cheever classics, but my attetnion span in getting through this tome was not my best fresh out of graduate school, so this time I gave it a 7-month try to let me be ready to sit down and work at Cheever's pace through these stories. Cheever was one of the kings of suburban misery, but mostly in the latter half of this collection. Cheever hims ...more
Iowa City Public Library
Could you imagine being Susan Cheever and being told when you are an adult that a temper tantrum you had as a child served as the source for one of your fathers well known stories? Wouldn’t you wonder what it was you were doing as a child that inspired your father to write a story where the little girl in the family is killed in an accident? Well that story, The Hartley’s, and many others are featured in The Stories of John Cheever. This Pulitzer Prize winner contains some of the best stories wr ...more
Natalie Serber
I continue to be surprised by the insight and beauty of these stories. Behind the cruelties his characters act out upon one another there is real yearning and desire to connect and to belong. Even the detestable husband lying in the gravel at the end of the story "The Five-Forty-Eight" is pitiable and deserving of compassion. Why? Because he suffers and he is lonely and he is human. He is a participant in his own story, not a victim, which makes him far more interesting. From "The Season of Divo ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I have recently discovered the short-story fiction of John Cheever, and I'm officially a fan. Some of these are creepy, puzzling, or even downright weird; but all of them, to one degree or another, sort of reminded me of my formative years in the 1960s and my parents' generation. This is a collection of short stories that I am sure that I will dip into time and again over the years. What I do know is that I want to read more of Cheever's fiction.

Four of 5 stars for me.
Kelly
$2! For this huge thing! I can't count how many times I've been told to read this. Now I have no excuse!
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John Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer, sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs" or "the Ovid of Ossining." His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the suburbs of Westchester, New York, and old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born.

His main themes include the duality of human nature:
...more
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“She cried for herself, she cried because she was afraid that she herself might die in the night, because she was alone in the world, because her desperate and empty life was not an overture but an ending, and through it all she could see was the rough, brutal shape of a coffin.” 22 likes
“I was here on earth because I chose to be.” 22 likes
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