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Bullet Park

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,192 ratings  ·  111 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
ebook, 256 pages
Published July 26th 2010 by Vintage (first published 1967)
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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
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
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! me, this is another book (like, say, Franny and Zooey, which I ADORE) in that category where if yo ...more
Andrew Larrison
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
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
“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
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
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
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
Jeeeez. What can you say about this? Well, a while ago I read the John Cheever short story "The Death of Justina" for an otherwise very sub-par American Lit class, and decided that it was absolutely the best thing we read all quarter. Then I read Falconer and didn't really find that it had any of the same immediacy, anxiety or foreboding that Justina had (though it had its strengths). So I was a little let down by his novelry. Bullet Park, however, is all of the things which made Justina really ...more
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
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
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
Aug 01, 2007 Patricia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Sergio Donato
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
Pura poesía (macabro) suburbial. Voy a adorar a Cheever para siempre después de esto. Realmente impresionante.
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.
Dec 13, 2009 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jealous neighbors
Cheever's legendary novel wavers between brilliance and an unfocused flakiness (especially during the Hammer section)with a fairly explosive ending that I liked quite a bit. Perhaps the flakiness in the Hammer section was intentional in proving what a directionless bastard he was, but it still makes for painful reading. Of course the bottom line is the ultimate in suburban psychosis: those that have better must suffer in the jealous hands of those that have less.
Mike Jensen
May 18, 2009 Mike Jensen marked it as books-abandoned  ·  review of another edition
When I read this book 30 years ago, the elegant style was enough to get me to the end. Today, the style seems just as elegant, but after 40 pages I realized that I had no interest in the fate of these characters. The style was not enough, and at times seemed self-indulgent--when Cheever was wound up, he sometimes overdid it. I do not need to read this book again.
My teacher encouraged me to read this in school, I did, and was pretty dissapointed.

His short stories are excellent, but it doesn't seem to me that he's got what it takes to sustain a full novel. THe narrative pretty much runs out after the first half or so.

Suburban gothic has been much better done elsewhere, says I.
Aaron Martz
I didn't know what this book was about when I started reading it, and I still don't know. It was labeled as the exploration of two male suburbanites whose lives collide violently, and that does happen in the very abrupt and unsatisfying ending, but the rest of the book explores their lives separately in what can only be described as several internal monologues. We learn the origins of each character, their fears, their passions, what makes them tick, and it is all incredibly funny, if rambling. ...more
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
I did not like this book at all.

The story is about a town named Bullet Park, a commuter town near NYC. It has a weird and foolish plot line which is not worth describing. The main character is a white collar working man. He is still hot for his wife after all these years. They have a son, whose story is part of the dopey plot line. A neighbor moves in. Everyone drinks a lot. I cannot say if this is a critique of suburban life or a defense of it.

Mr. Cheever is a good writer, and it is a pleasur
Si Noche Salvaje es la novela kafkiana de Thompson, Bullet Park es la weird de Cheever. Curiosamente, la que para muchos es la mejor se quedó en tierra de nadie: extraña para los seguidores de la estricta sociología que tanto gusta a los hiperrealistas y convencional para los que prefieren lanzarse hacia Pynchon.Son los ibros que encuentro más fascinantes. Cada párrafo y personaje secundario contiene una bomba. Si fuera una carrera, Cheever llega a la meta cuando el más celebrado Salinger no va ...more
Nose in a book (Kate)
This is a comedy, poking fun at suburbia, but it’s a dark, subtle kind of comedy. I certainly didn’t laugh out loud. The story is that of Eliot Nailles, sensible middle-class long-term resident of Bullet Park, a New York suburb, and his recently arrived neighbour Paul Hammer. At first glance Nailles is hard working, happily married, blessed with a perfect teenage son and admired by all around him, while Hammer is somehow mysterious, with a wife who says things she shouldn’t after a few drinks.

Extremely haunting. Like the reviewer below says, this book feels like a desperate (but also somehow off-hand) dispatch from someone becoming very very lost.

"this is Cheever at his most boldly archetypal, and Bullet Park is less a physical place than a state of mind. Namely, Cheever’s state of mind. The book was written as Cheever began to engage in his final, life-altering descent into alcoholism. It was published in 1969, and by 1975 Cheever was separated from his wife, creatively eviscerated,
For most of the book, I was simply and solely fascinated by the writing style. I kept thinking about how this wasn't my type of book but, at the same time, respected John Cheever's skill and craft.
I read the turning point line of the whole book (last line of Part II)
This book is spectacular! Cheever has the patience to slowly build the story, characters and plot while the reader is completely unaware of his writing command. Suddenly, BOOM, it all come
I bought Bullet Park on the strength of my enjoyment of Falconer, another Cheever novel. I also love suburban novels like this and Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

At first, I was miffed at the cutesy character names (Hammer and Nailles). I got over it, though, because of Cheever's enormous writing talent. He captures the wild things that a person thinks but does not say. I enjoyed most the second major part of the book, which tells the story of Paul Hammer, a world-weary wastrel too insulat
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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 about John Cheever...
The Stories of John Cheever Falconer The Wapshot Chronicle The Swimmer Oh What a Paradise It Seems

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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.” 3 likes
“Grief was for the others; sorrow and pain were for the others; some terrible mistake had been made.” 3 likes
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