Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Stories of John Cheever

The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
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's review
Feb 05, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: all-fiction, pyoo-litzers, short-stories, five-star-fiction, alcoholics-unanimous
Read in February, 2011

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 emotions, desires, and behaviors in such a way that they are recognizable in the extreme. Not in yourself, of course, because you don't suck. Oh no, not you. But there are people all around you who want to seem more upwardly mobile than they actually are, and they have ugly secrets.

Don't get me wrong. Not ALL of the stories follow the above pattern. Some are sweet, and some are funny. Cheever has a flair for finishing stories in ways you'd least expect. It's like sitting on a bee with your bare flesh exposed. You're cruising along, happily oblivious, thinking hmmmm....wonder where this story is going. Then BAM! You get a stinger in the end. The sting doesn't last long, though. It just makes you want to sample the next story to see where it will wind up.

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Reading Progress

02/09/2011 page 370
53.0% "These stories are quite astonishing. Some similarity to Richard Yates, but less depressing. I think this will be a five-star collection for me." 2 comments
02/19/2011 page 645
92.0% "This was quite an undertaking, but I'm almost there!"
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel You are a nut! (But you don't suck.) ;)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Rachel wrote: "(But you don't suck.) ;)"

WHEW! Thanks Rach! I was really startin' to worry about that.

caroline addictive. i forced myself to put time between each story to digest... you are so right about the endings.

Don Incognito This review is highly amusing.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Don Incognito wrote: "This review is highly amusing."

Why thank you, Don! I'm always happy to entertain.

Betsy Robinson Well said.

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