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Oh What a Paradise It Seems
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Oh What a Paradise It Seems

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  905 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
An old man falls violently in love and does valiant battle against unscrupulous polluters in John Cheever's ineffably joyful last novel.
Mass Market Paperback, 105 pages
Published April 12th 1986 by Ballantine Books (first published 1977)
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Joe Pantozzi A frustration of life, and a confession. A coming out of the closet that was not any surprise at all.

Maybe he had a book contract quota he had to…more
A frustration of life, and a confession. A coming out of the closet that was not any surprise at all.

Maybe he had a book contract quota he had to fulfill!(less)
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Community Reviews

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Cody
Jun 14, 2010 Cody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
might hit too close to home if you are a closeted dude who drinks a lot of polluted pond water
Núria

Cuando John Cheever estaba enfermo de cáncer y a punto de morirse, escribió una novela breve con mensaje ecologista y extrañamente optimista, llamada ni más ni menos ‘Esto parece el paraíso’. El protagonista es un hombre mayor al que le encanta patinar sobre hielo y que, a lo largo de la novela, empieza una relación con una mujer y después otra con un hombre, pero los dos más jóvenes que él, mientras que también lucha para evitar que una laguna se convierta en un vertedero de residuos. De las ob
...more
João
Feb 25, 2016 João rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, foreign-fiction
Sears, um homem já de certa idade, viúvo duas vezes, telefona à filha, que mora em Janice, perto do Lago de Beasley, antes de ir passar um dia a patinar no lago gelado. Duas semanas mais tarde, já com o lago descongelado, percebe que o transformaram num local de descarga de entulho, controlado pela Máfia que controla o Conselho Municipal, para quem Salazzo, um antigo barbeiro local, faz as cobranças ilegais. Sears contrate Chisholm, um advogado e ativista ambiental, para litigar sobre o lago. Na ...more
João Roque
Este livro de John Chever - "Parece Mesmo o Paraíso" é absolutamente desconcertante.
A linguagem própria do autor, a sua descrição perfeita das personagens e das situações, tudo ali está, como nos seus contos.
Mas Cheever é quase surrealista na forma como encadeia as situações, como enquadra as personagens que vai apresentando, algumas delas nem "fazem parte do enredo", se este livro tem enredo...
Trata-se de algo simples que o autor vai "desdobrando" e que se resume em poucas palavras - a luta de
...more
Betsy Robinson
Jan 05, 2015 Betsy Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“He skated and skated. The pleasure of fleetness seemed, as she had said, divine. Swinging down a long stretch of black ice gave Sears a sense of homecoming. At long last, at the end of a cold, long journey, he was returning to a place where his name was known and loved and lamps burned in the rooms and fires in the hearth. It seemed to Sears that all the skaters moved over the ice with the happy conviction that they were on their way home. Home might be an empty room and an empty bed to many of
...more
Roberto

Bello e noioso come stare in Paradiso

Un protagonista che si divide tra ricordi, incontri con una signora passionale e prestazioni omosessuali col primo che capita, un "paradiso" che è un lago che sta per diventare una discarica, dialoghi folgoranti composti senza un'apparente logica, una generalizzata sensazione di decadenza della civiltà.

Un romanzo con spunti narrativi originali, scritto con momenti di pura e intensa poesia (alternati a momenti abbastanza tediosi) ma che però non si capisce ben
...more
Mike Ingram
The second star is really just General Cheever Goodwill, because I do really love Cheever -- the stories, the Wapshot stuff, especially Falconer, which is beautiful. But this book: yeah, not so much. I think it gets shelved in the "slightly amusing cranky old man" section, next to a few of Philip Roth's lesser novels.
Beth
Mar 13, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novella has everything I like about Cheever--lovely clarity of language, a knowingness about people's inner lives and yearnings, and a slight sense of the absurd. I also liked the unexpected environmental message. Hurray for the Cheever revival!
Carolyn Heinze
Jan 05, 2014 Carolyn Heinze rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blah
Kept waiting for this story's soul to show up, but I guess it was taking a long lunch.
Sini
Dec 13, 2015 Sini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Oh what a paradise it seems" is Cheevers laatste boek; terwijl hij het schreef was hij dodelijk ziek en hij wist dat ook. Duidelijk een zwanenzang dus, en bovendien een "ecological fable" waarin veel aandacht bestaat voor milieuvervuiling en de nefaste invloed daarop van voze politici en maffiosi. De hiertegen agerende hoodfpersoon is, net als degene die met hem samenwerkt, dan ook nog eens oud en doordesemd van teleurgestelde nostalgie, en vol van tamelijk weemoedig liefdesverlangen. Ingredien ...more
Dan
Mar 05, 2012 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This is a story to be read in bed in an old house on a rainy night."
So begins Cheever's 1982 fable. The story is about an idyllic village ("it presented no fast food franchises of any sort"), with large mansions that "had not been reconstructed to serve as nursing homes for that vast population of comatose and the dying who were kept alive, unconscionably, through trailblazing medical invention." The village contains an equally idyllic pond, on which the hero, an older man named Lemuel Sears, e
...more
Mohammed
Jul 19, 2011 Mohammed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52books
This is my first book by Cheever and I meant for it to be a novella; I tend to read shorts by acclaimed authors before delving into their other longer books to get a grasp and a feeling of the author's style. Cheever did not disappoint and I had fun reading this novella. I don't know how to classify it, whether drama or mystery. It is, definitely, a slice of life novella. At times, it reminded me of the melancholic "A Single Man" (film). I was going to give it 3 stars (my "good & enjoyed it" ...more
Alia S
Apr 11, 2015 Alia S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Structurally neat and tidy, which is especially interesting given it’s a product of Cheever’s personal unraveling. (Best review says: “Might hit too close to home if you are a closeted dude who drinks a lot of polluted pond water.”)

Even with the pond, this is not quite the enviro story the Sierra Club set might get excited for when they read the jacket copy—rather, the same nostalgic New England NIMBYism you get in The Wapshot Chronicle. It works, though.
Monica
Mar 30, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the way that Cheever writes. Its frankness and mystery at the same time is amazing.

This is a book about a small town, corruption, love and pollution. They don't really seem to go together, do they? But somehow, Cheever makes it work.

A short work but a good one. I am ready to reread it already.
Cristina
Daca tot am obsevat ca am o serie de carti parcurse acum ceva vreme, dar asupra carora nu mi-am exprimat parerea, am zis ca ar fi timpul sa ma pun pe treaba.

Totul pare un paradis e un roman scurt, dar surprinzator de bun. Cel putin asa a fost pentru mine. Lucrurile sunt prezentate intr-o maniera directa si clara, in asa fel incat cititorul intra instant in atmosfera oraselului care e personajul principal, si care se cheama Janice, much to my surprise, as it is a woman's name. La marginea orasulu
...more
Craig Masten
Feb 24, 2017 Craig Masten rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
John Cheever's novel "Oh What a Paradise It Seems" seems to me a slight book in more than just its less than a hundred pages. I'm no expert in Cheever's writing, even though I once read all of his collected short stories and thought them entertaining enough to read all at once, but this book is full of literally wonderful unlikely sentences said by characters made out of a brilliant writer's somewhat jaundiced imagination rather than anything likely to actually happen. At least not all of it all ...more
Harperac
Sep 01, 2014 Harperac rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america
"At the time in which I am writing," is the beginning of several key sentences in "Oh What A Paradise It Seems". Cheever has always been a great example of 'period' writing, in the sense that he depicts the trends in society. His last published work, "Paradise" seems to be a summation of this impulse, tracking the trends of 1970s and early 80s life while also looking back on the past.

I love this 'period' part of Cheever's work - actually it's the main reason I like him, combined with his sensiti
...more
Caterina Fake
Sep 27, 2008 Caterina Fake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stayed up all night reading a short book by John Cheever What a Paradise It Seems which was, from what I can gather, his last.

That things had been better was the music, the reprise of his days. It had been sung by his elders, by his associates, he had heard it sung in college by Toynbee and Spengler. Things had been better, things were getting worse, and the lengthening moral and intellectual shadows that one saw spreading over the Western World were final. What a bore it had been to live in t
...more
Vaniglia Harris
Feb 16, 2016 Vaniglia Harris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
E’ una storia particolare che, ci informa subito l’autore, dovrebbe essere letta “a letto, in una vecchia casa, in un giorno di pioggia”. Ruota intorno all’anziano protagonista, amante dei paesaggi di montagna del nord America e dei suoi laghi gelati: su uno di questi, in particolare, ama pattinare dolcemente durante l’inverno e quando scopre che personaggi senza scrupoli lo stanno trasformando in una discarica intraprende una battaglia legale per difenderlo. Solo e due volte vedovo, si imbatte ...more
Facundo Valverde
La última novela de Cheever, Parecía un paraíso no parece uno de sus maravillosos relatos. Más bien, parece algo escrito rápido, sin tantas ganas, sin ningúna preocupación por las transiciones dramáticas (un hombre encuentra el amor en un ascensorista luego de haber ido a buscar supuestamente al amor de su vida) y con un esbozo bastante grosero de los personajes. De un lado, los buenos y del otro lado los malos. En el medio, la clase media y la clase pudiente con conciencia ecológica – algo que ...more
Edi
Jun 30, 2013 Edi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Cheever's last piece of work is a parable set in the idyllic Small Town, USA, being riddled with frustration and melancholy over what was vs. what is and what could've been. We're told the story of an elder businessman, Lemuel Sears, a man's man forged in the heat of WWII, with eyes like the sea and a fisherman's tan; a man who's troubled by the ever-changing world and the politics that make it go round, a man who's just looking for something steady to hold on to and make him feel young aga ...more
Joe Pantozzi
May 10, 2016 Joe Pantozzi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Oh What a Paradise It Seems by John Cheever

I felt this book was a revelation of who he was in his life. Not so much a novel, but an admission of the frustration of how he saw life, his personal life, in the end.

The writing is still Cheever, for those that know him. It seemed forced to me-a confession, even. A "don't you get it? Why do I have to spell it out for you" book. As to why he wrote it that way, I wasn't in his head. I "got" him years ago in school, and after, by the time I read this one.

Even the title is cliched.

I could go on.
...more
Stephen AB
Feb 29, 2016 Stephen AB rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I enjoyed this - a solid little novella, read in an evening and into the night. Cheever writes very simply, deceptively so, and describes an odd existential world, mostly filled with bewildered and bewildering people, who sometimes perchance find fleeting, ephemeral moments of happiness: a day at the beach, skating on a cold crisp day, fishing for bass - little moments of paradise, I suppose. These, I've come to feel, are perhaps the most we can ask for in terms of joy, and are wonderful when th ...more
Juliet
Oct 14, 2014 Juliet rated it it was ok
Not Cheever's best, I'm afraid. Still has moments of luminous prose, but he seems weighted down by the crankiness of old age. He equates his homosexual urges with the destruction of the landscape -- both of which he views as sicknesses, a perspective that seems very sad to today's eyes. I wonder, had he not felt so repressed and guilty, what would his writing have been like. Would it have bloomed even more than it did, or was feeling that he had to keep so much bottled up what led him to write? ...more
Arjun Mishra
I love the allegories here. The environmentalist Chisolm can represent you, whether or not you feel strongly or not about the idea of environmentalism. I think that is a true strength; when a character can capture special feelings and themes without it being the idea he fervently supports that engenders the positive feelings.

I have total admiration for Cheever's writing style. It is impeccable. You can hang on every sentence. I was hooked by page 5.

So Cheever deserves some merit and credit for
...more
Joanne
Jun 15, 2015 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnl-book-club
This was a strange little book. It started out I thought as a simple story of a man longing for a small town pond to skate on, forwards to his sexual relationship with a woman and man and then ties in pollution and dumping in the pond and the drama associated with that. I liked that when referencing things of the time (the book was written in the early 80s) the author notes that so you don’t feel it is a dated story. I found the anecdote on the couple leaving their baby at the side of the road a ...more
J.S. McLean
I've never read any Cheever before, and I'd be interested in pursuing more of his work now that I've finished this quick novella. It is difficult to care about any of the characters--the only one I was truly interested in is the cynical but loving daughter, who is only addressed in passing--but strangely fascinating as they detonate into each other's lives via absurdist accidents that somehow ring true to life. Cheever's dark, indulgent view of human motivation is moving and hilarious, but I'm g ...more
John Whalen
Jun 30, 2011 John Whalen rated it liked it
Like all of Cheever's longer pieces, Oh What a Paradise It Seems is far from perfect. There are some moving and, even, beautiful passages, but the overall structure of the novella is weak. This is understandable considering that Cheever was a much stronger short story writer than he was a novelist. With the exception of Falconer, I find that Cheever's novels often read like several short stories merged together.He seemed to struggle with the structure of the novel

Delightfully retro, generally wi
...more
Dan Downing
Dec 06, 2015 Dan Downing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Published in the early 80s, this short novel by one of our modern masters escaped my attention at the time. I was fortunate to acquire a copy a year or so ago, and it came to hand today.
Written with Cheever's usual sure hand and polished prose, in many ways the thirty odd years since publication mean nothing. The picture of America, of our corruption and the speech of the small town mayor rings true and contemporary. Certainly Cheever's reflections on the human condition, and his humorous observ
...more
Betty
Sep 07, 2013 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
There is a rambling quality about this novella. As a reader, I kept wondering where this was going as the narrative seemed to take tangents, in the way that someone telling a story will start to branch off into something not entirely related. So we get to know about the protagonist's previous marriages, about meeting a seer in Eastern Europe, off track from the story of a polluted pond which is where the tale begins. Along the way there is humor, tragedy, absurdity and the ineffable mystery of h ...more
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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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“Another historical peculiarity of the place was the fact that its large mansions, those relics of another time, had not been reconstructed to serve as nursing homes for that vast population of comatose and the dying who were kept alive, unconscionably, through trailblazing medical invention.” 0 likes
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