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Bullet Park

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,703 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Welcome to Bullet Park, a township in which even the most buttoned-down gentry sometimes manage to terrify themselves simply by looking in the mirror. In these exemplary environs John Cheever traces the fateful intersection of two men: Eliot Nailles, a nice fellow who loves his wife and son to blissful distraction, and Paul Hammer, a bastard named after a common household ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 15th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1967)
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(showing 1-30)
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Adam Dalva
Jul 14, 2017 Adam Dalva rated it really liked it
Extraordinarily bizarre novel with some gorgeous, hilarious sections of writing. I prefer THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLE, which has all the weirdness of this book with more interesting characters. Try to avoid the back jacket copy, or any summary, because the lesson here is in the (insane) delay of plot - it's a 220 page preamble, then 20 brief pages of action, and if you know what's coming it will take away most of the fun. The first half of the preamble belongs to Nailes, and is told in a roving 3rd pe ...more
Luís C.
Welcome to Bullet Park, paradise of the American middle class. In this exemplary environment we will be witnesses of the fateful meeting between two men: one hand, Eliot Nailles, a citizen that is fully integrated into their community, which, despite its internal contradictions, wants his wife and his son to the happy disposition, and, on the other hand, a new neighbor, Paul Hammer, a nowhere man which, after half a lifetime of wandering, decides to buy a house in Bullet Park. Coinciding with th ...more
Matt
Aug 13, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
Well, if you want to learn the rules of how novels work, it's good to read ones that won't (or can't) play by those rules. Watching Cheever's instincts chafe against the novel form, and watching him accept that and willfully embrace the resulting weirdness, is pleasurable. It would be maybe awful if he didn't write everything with such exquisite style. But every sentence is musical, though the totality is much stranger. I like it.

What he seems to be at odds with is the novelist's shameless repe
...more
Ben
Nov 15, 2010 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to laugh at the lurid come-on printed on the first page of my 1988 Bantam paperback of this book: "HAVE YOU EVER COMMITTED A MURDER?" Anyone who buys this book hoping for a gruesome "there's a killer in all of us" potboiler is destined for disappointment.

However, if they're open to it, they might find something infinitely more interesting. "Bullet Park," like most great books, establishes itself in the first line: "Paint me a small railroad station then, ten minutes before dark." As soon
...more
Andrew Larrison
Sep 22, 2007 Andrew Larrison rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read Cheever all my adult life, but didn't expect to like him -- suburban malaise is not a subject I need to spend a lot more time exploring. Bullet Park just goes to show that subject matter has little bearing on your enjoyment when the author is capital-G Great. This book is exactly what I feared about Cheever: set in a wealthy Connecticut bedroom community, the protagonist is a salaryman addicted to amphetamines, the teenage son is bedridden with depression, the wife is ...more
W.B.
Jan 10, 2008 W.B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most people I know really don't like this book. I read it at a time when I sort of identified with the central agonist...well one could argue whether the father or the son was central...but I was a teenager and similarly weird. The novel has a real redemptive (almost Biblical) beauty in the way the father breaks through societal, cultural, etc. conditioning....well there was a spoiler....soz!....to me, this is another book (like, say, Franny and Zooey, which I ADORE) in that category where if yo ...more
Kirstie
Mar 29, 2012 Kirstie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a way, I hesitate to give this novel merely a 4 because I'm guessing that when Cheever originally wrote it in 1967, it was a great deal more astounding. Bullet Park is about a suburb of NYC where there's a very thin veneer that everything is going smoothly. The locals are suicidal, homicidal, adulterers, racist, impossibly sad, addicted to illegally prescribed medicines, TV, cigarettes and alcohol and at the end of the week they all go to Christ's Church like the good little Christians they a ...more
R.
Mar 28, 2014 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Carried the paperback around with me for the three or four days I read it, sneaking reads in chairs here or cars there and lines everywhere - luxuriating in Cheever's masterful, seemingly effortless and eternally enlightening (delightful) descriptions of lounge light, thanatonic thunder, scary suburbia, mad mothers, fucked-off fathers, and, as always, alcoholism.

It would've made a great Alfred Hitchcock movie with Jimmy Stewart as Nailles and either Robert Mitchum or Cary Grant as Hammer (in th
...more
Núria
Parece que John Cheever es más conocido como escritor de relatos y que sus novelas muchas veces son consideradas simples cuentos alargados, pero lo cierto es que el mismo John Cheever prefería ser considerado un escritor de novelas y consideraba sus cuentos casi como trabajos de encargo. ‘Bullet Park’ (Emecé), que es quizás la novela más conocida de Cheever, se divide claramente en dos partes: la primera está protagonizada por un hombre llamado Nailles y la segunda por otro hombre que se llama H ...more
Hande Çakır
Mar 13, 2017 Hande Çakır rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amerikan banliyö hayatının boşluğunu ve hastalıklı insanlarını hicivle anlatan bir kitaptı. Ya diğer kitaplarına da göz atacağım.
Sandra
Sep 03, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Dunque, vorrei avere davanti a me un quadro con su dipinta una stazioncina dieci minuti prima che cali la notte” : intorno case bianche con pianoforti a coda che nessuno suona, camini fumanti, scaffali di libri (vuoti o sui quali giace un solo volume, l’elenco del telefono rilegato in broccato rosa), famiglie “normali” riunite nel salotto di casa come la famiglia Nailles, Eliot, Nellie e il loro figlio Tony. Così inizia Bullett Park.
“..e tutto di nuovo ridivenne bello, bello, bello ma bello com
...more
Ugh
Jan 02, 2012 Ugh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well. This is random. I struggled at times to get my head around Cheever's flitting between times and characters, but that was nothing compared with my struggle to understand what on earth point he was trying to make. Wholesomeness is boring but there's nothing much we can do about it? People hurt and love for all sorts of reasons, yet with neither rhyme nor reason? I mean, his tone is easy enough to decipher, but his point eludes me.

I did find much of the book very readable, and mostly enjoyed
...more
Sergio Donato
Jan 24, 2014 Sergio Donato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca, 2014
E niente.
Quando si usa questa locuzione non è mai davvero niente. C'è sempre qualcosa che segue, e dopo il mio niente, cioè dopo questo libro che è uno di quelli che prendi il notebook, se sei scrittore, e lo lanci dalla finestra perché tu quando mai la scriverai una cosa così, decido di fare seguire un po' di mestizia assortita. Così, tanto per distrarmi mentre vedo il notebook roteare in aria prima che arrivi sui sampietrini. Ci posso aggiungere anche un po' di livore, dicendo che il finale no
...more
Sandy
Sep 08, 2012 Sandy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I'm just over so unhappy 1950's suburbs, but I do not like this book. I am also tired of so many writers with sexual hangups.
The main thing I didn't like though, was the writing itself. When Cheever moved from one character to the next, I felt like he was never going to get back to the main story. He would go on and on about tertiary characters and we'd never really hear of them again.
This is also one of those books that 'hurries up and ends'. On one page I'm still at the build up and the
...more
Bruno
Mar 13, 2017 Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grotesquely funny and full of bizzare symbolism. The part in which Nailles drinks rainwater scooped out of an urn at the cemetery to swallow the pill he's just bought from his pusher must be my favourite image. Come on, that's just genius! Why haven't I bloody read Cheever before?!
Alan
Aug 28, 2016 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1993 notebook: another great American book. The mild adultery, the man sucked under the morning express, the man who knows the different sounds trees make in the wind - larch, tulip, oak. But what good does it do, he thinks? Someone has to observe the world. That's the line, the line for me.
David
Tellement bizarre. Hammer and Nailles. I mean, Jesus Christ. But not.
Vishal
Apr 05, 2015 Vishal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any fans of the 60's, Mad Men, the unravelling of suburban perfection
There are some writers you read that just connect to your soul in the space of a few words. J.D. Salinger did that to me in Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories. Jack Kerouac did that to me in Vanity of Duluoz and The Dharma Bums. And John Cheever does that to me pretty much always. He is the simple, lovable, yet highly complex rogue inside all of us.

Who couldn't instantly like someone who smiles like that?

Seriously, who couldn't instantly like someone with a smile like that?

This is, incidentally, my second reading of Bullet Park. Quite like Catcher i
...more
A
Apr 18, 2012 A rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
The last paragraph of this Rumpus review of Bullet Park pretty much nails it. Oprah's been off the air for a year now, but look at what books our culture prizes these days and it's clear we still live in an age where the greatest endorsement a book can get is from TV. There's no question that our highest literary praise is still reserved for all that is slick, polished, and cinematic.

I'm not saying that's necessarily bad: The Art of Fielding and The Rules of Civility are two refined and flawles
...more
Mary Overton
A serious, hilarious, quirky, disjointed allegory about 1960s upper-middle-class suburbs -- a spiritual story about people who have lost their connection to spirituality. Hermetic tropes include the 'magic Negro' faith-healer who lives over a funeral parlor in the slums, two alchemists with different sorts of laboratories, a fairy tale bastard raised by a rich fairy grandmother, a sacrificial first-born son, the summoning of erotic spirits, a variety of impossible-to-please 'White Goddess' women ...more
Paul
Aug 14, 2011 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
What an intensely odd novel. The old adage that each novel teaches you how to read as you go doesn't really ring true here; Bullet Park shifts modes at least twice, making for an . . . uncomfortable? reading experience. Overall, it's a book that bears re-reading, once you've figured out its game. The novel opens with an odd, lyrical, tense-shifting passage that fades into a typical past-tense third-person narrative. Early on it becomes clear this is highly satirical, though this becomes a bit of ...more
Jeffrey Howard
Jul 18, 2014 Jeffrey Howard rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
Cheever draws up story of ordinary characters playing out a slightly comical story. A teenage boy stays in bed for weeks (not necessarily sick) until a "holy man" shows up at the house and inexplicably "heals" him. A man obsesses over a room in a stranger's house falling in love with it, holding it as his only place of quiet and happiness--then settles in the suburbs to murder boy. This story isn't remotely about murder.

His characters occupy the usual "not all is as okay in the suburbs" which i
...more
Patricia
Jul 29, 2007 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literature fans; the emotionally bothered
Shelves: fiction
It's not common that I take recommendations for reading from psychiatrists, but this was an exception. The story about the upper-middle-class Nailles who manages to survive what initially looks like a "neighborly" encounter with Mr. Hammer, is compelling even if you're not upper-middle-class, a drug addict, a father or, for that matter, male. Despite what my pschrinck said at the time, I didn't find all that much to identify with in this book (except for Nailles decreasing hold on self-control), ...more
Will
Jan 03, 2009 Will rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a goodreads delinquent for some time now -- I'll admit that. Then I read Bullet Park, and I remembered how wonderful Cheever's novels could be, and I had to share it, so here I am, returned, prodigal, and feeling creatively refreshed by the twin geniuses of Paul Hammer and Elliot Nailles.

People might say that this book is about a murder, but it's not. It's about two people and the people that inhabit those people's lives. With one hand in the NY suburbs and the other in a kind of poig
...more
Dan
Jan 23, 2011 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My goodness, what a strange, airless book. A novel, I guess, maybe, about a man who is very happy in spite of the intense and constant imposition of pain into his life; who suddenly realizes that this pain constantly imposes itself upon him, and nearly goes to pieces; and who is rescued, for the most part, through extraordinary experience that allows him to, I guess, maybe, gloss over the intense pain through a willfully invented, present-focused life-out-of-time in a suburb, as incantatory and ...more
Fernanda
Dec 28, 2015 Fernanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
So much was said about Cheever influencing Mad Men that, once the series was over, I decided to read something of his. 'Bullet Park' has been randomly chosen. In the first pages, I could see each scene being shot following Matthew Weiner's script. But where Mad Men is subtle, Cheever is out there — it would be like reading between the lines of Mad Men's cruelty, violence, sexuality and awkwardness. And where Mad Men is always perfect in form and style, Cheever is like a bull set loose: magnific, ...more
Karin
Sep 06, 2014 Karin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a used book sale nearly two years ago and finally had time to pick it up. Are you a fan of Mad Men? This book, set in suburban 1960s New York, could run parallel to Don and Betty Draper. It’s dry, dark humor which gets more creepy as it goes on. It’s the story of two men, with the last names of Hammer and Nailles, with a climactic interaction at the end. The story of how in that time and place, a man’s duty and a man’s desires were at great odds. It’s a quick read, and I can’ ...more
Hamish
Jul 08, 2016 Hamish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
At first this seemed like another Cheever novel, a series of short stories haphazardly and nonsensically strung together to meet the public's expectation of a novel. I was convinced that he had begun writing one novel and then began digressing to multiple other novels due to boredom or lack of discipline. Then I reached the end of part two and it became clear that Cheever carefully and artfully structured this and that the payoff brought all the seeming digressions into a new light. Extremely sa ...more
David
Nov 16, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cheever always seems to have an interesting take on suburbia. I'm not entirely sure how this one shakes out. You have an unstably complacent suburban man and the insane anti-suburban man who attempts to kill the unstably complacent suburban man's son. The summary says that the boy is saved but the American dream dies. However, the book seems just as critical of the anti-suburban man as the suburban man. I'm not sure what to take away from that, but I never expected Cheever to be simple.
Els
Mar 01, 2016 Els rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK... Voor dit soort boeken is de rating 'vijf sterren' uitgevonden. Wat een ontdekking, dit verhaal van Cheever dat reeds uit 1969 dateert. Doet me beetje denken aan David Lynch wanneer we literairgewijs door het voorstadje Bullet Park nabij New York dwalen. De personages zijn heerlijk, de wendingen verrassend, het ritme gestaag, de setting: 'mad-man-cockailparty' meets 'Twin Peaks'. Meer van dat, meer van Cheever. Wordt vervolgd.
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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:
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“The secret of keeping young is to read children's books. You read the books they write for little children and you'll keep young. You read novels, philosophy, stuff like that and it makes you feel old.” 6 likes
“Grief was for the others; sorrow and pain were for the others; some terrible mistake had been made.” 5 likes
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