Jack Bullion's Reviews > The Stories of John Cheever

The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
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Sep 13, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010, read-on-kindle
Read from September 13 to December 16, 2010

A copy of this collection has sat on my shelf for the better part of a decade, gathering dust. Recently I’ve become preoccupied with the idea that bookshelves shouldn’t serve an aspirational purpose, and should better reflect what I’ve actually read rather than what I want to. Since I didn’t want to remainder my copy of Stories, I spent most of autumn reading it. I finished the book this morning and am happy to report that all my preconceptions about Cheever (too suburban, too ironic, too classical for my tastes) have been utterly shattered. The canonical texts are all here, and they’re all great, but what truly sold me on Cheever’s brilliance were a series of increasingly bizarre and thrilling stories from the book’s second half, which I ripped right through. These include:

-a story that opens with a jewel heist (“Montraldo”),
-a story that involves one character putting a kitten in a blender (“The Geometry of Love”),
-a story narrated by a stomach (“Three Stories: Part I”),
-a story featuring a woman who works as an airport public address announcer who speaks to her husband the same way at home (“Another Story”), and, best of all,
-a truly batshit novella involving potable water, adultery, international espionage, and a novel entitled, simply, Shit (“Artermis, the Honest Well-Digger”)

So: come for Cheever's New Yorker stories, but stay for his Playboy stories.

Rick Moody has a great appreciation of "bizarro-Cheever" that can be found here: http://www.conjunctions.com/archives/...

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