Books Features

New bio on John Cheever

By Jessica Schneider Mar 16, 2009, 12:08 GMT

New bio on John Cheever

From the acclaimed author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates comes the unforgettable life of John Cheever (1912–1982), a man who spent much of his career impersonating a perfect suburban gentleman, the better to become one of the foremost chroniclers of postwar America. “I was born into no true class,” Cheever mused in his journal, “and it was my decision, early in life, to insinuate ...more

There is a new bio on the writer John Cheever. Written by Blake Bailey, USA Today notes:

The public Cheever was tweedy grace incarnate, charming visitors who came to his Westchester lair. But the private man battled intense loneliness and severe alcoholism. He was born to often unloving parents who slid downward financially as Cheever grew up. As an adult, he was a difficult husband and father to three children (including the writers Susan and Ben) while alternately denying and accepting his attraction to other men.

Booklist has said:

Perhaps a Cheever renaissance of sorts will result from this magnificently understanding and understandable biography based on copious research and destined to be the definitive life treatment...Riveting from page 1, this is the literary biography of the season and will be talked about for years to come; it will also, it is hoped, guide readers once again to his distinctive fiction, especially his short stories."

Though the USA Today reviewer also notes:

Unfortunately, the nearly 800-page Cheever: A Life suffers from TMI: too much information. Fueled by an excess of well-intentioned zeal, Bailey appears to have detailed virtually every sexual encounter, every hangover, every rebuff that Cheever (1912-82) experienced during his 70 years on earth. By the end, the joyless minutiae of Cheever's personal life swamps the book, drowning his career as a writer.

Click here for the full review. Knopf is the publisher.


 



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