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From @Goodbye, My Brother@

@Oh, what can you do with a man like that? What can you do? How can you dissuade his eyes in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand; how can you teach him to respond to the inestimable greatness of the race, the harsh surface beauty of life; how can you put his finger for him on the obdurate truths before which fear and horror are powerless? The sea that morning was iridescent and dark. My wife and my sister were swimming -- Diana and Helen -- and I saw their uncovered heads, black and gold in the dark water. I saw them come out and I saw that they were naked, unshy, beautiful and full of grace, and I watched the naked women walk out of the sea.@

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Tal vez 3,5 sea lo justo. Pero la lectura de los sesenta cuentos de Cheever me desilusionó un poco. Tal vez el problema haya sido que comencé con los más famosos, y entre ellos una joya como @El nadador@. Pero fuera de los diez mejores, el resto baja notoriamente el nivel. Cheever cultiva el cuento largo, que a veces parece ser el germen de una novela, y en muchos casos las narraciones no tienen la intensidad y el ritmo que me gustan ver en los cuentos, pero tampoco desarrolla con profundidad esa historia. La decadencia que trae el paso del tiempo, la hipocresía social y familiar o los peligros de la decadencia económica son algunos de los temas preferidos por el autor. Aunque se lo ha comparado en cuanto a la valoración, como cuentista me parece estar lejos de un monstruo como Raymond Carver. De todos modos, la lectura de esos diez mejores cuentos es sumamente recomendable.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
I read this in bits and pieces over a year and a half, and Im glad I read it that way. If I had tried reading it straight thru I would have tired of Cheever, or at least of his recurring theme of the hidden heartaches of upper middle class suburbia. I first picked this up when I was 19 and can remember reading it on a bus to Cape Cod, but I was not emotionally ready for it at that time. During this reading I developed an appreciation and respect for Cheevers elegant prose style and his depictions of neurotic, painful conflicts that have the force and inevitability of natural events.

Cheevers art was not happy, but it would be an oversimplification to describe it as being only about the unhappiness of the well-to-do. He wrote about the private sadnesses that people hide away while continuing to keep up appearances, and about pain that stemmed from human weakness, but he offered no solutions. Many of his characters are tormented by failures of love, aging, and corrosive personal flaws. This was often somewhat chilling, yet I frequently found myself, after a regular day full of phony good cheer, eagerly looking forward to reading another Cheever story.

The crushing pressures of society are clearly present in the lives of his characters, but paradoxically, Cheever was no social critic. He is partial to a fairly smug, narrow propriety, an attitude which he often depicts as being ultimately the correct one, despite the damage that it causes. This, of course, was at odds with the man who he really was: an alcoholic, adulterous bisexual who balanced his superficially normal home life with a hidden life of boozing and gay affairs. It is hard not to see him as somewhat hypocritical. But in his defense, one can point out a couple of things. He did seem to believe in bourgeois values althou he didnt live by them (which must have been a source of conflict for him.) Also, if he had gone ahead and written pieces about men having anal sex in bars on Christopher Street, he would not have had anywhere near the success that he did.

The earlier stories are more the standard WASP dramas, and contain some of his better writing. As his career progressed, he experimented with more unusual styles: some dreamlike, surreal moments, oddly formless pieces, a series of tales about Americans living in Italy (not his best--his home turf was where his strength lay), and even a couple of light-hearted, humorous tales. His best stories mingle elements of a resonant and disturbing strangeness with the stuff of everyday life: @The Swimmer@, @The 5:48@, and @The Music Teacher@, for example.

Some have accused Cheever of working with stock situations and flat characters that do not develop. In my opinion, the situations are all different, even if they contain similar elements, e.g. a troubled marriage, someone with a drinking problem, or someone behaving in a socially unacceptable manner. The characters are flat, it is true--but these are short stories, so character development is not a requirement. If the situation is interesting and the writing keeps the reader engaged, that is enough. At its worst, Cheevers work comes across as a series of meandering passages in which little of interest happens externally or internally, except for the occasional oddly unpleasant encounter. He had an abiding interest in strange misunderstandings and the hurtful things people are capable of doing to one another. At his best, he wrote graceful, melancholic examinations of Americas hopes and frailties.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
This is actually my second time through this book, though the first time, years upon years back, I hadnt given it the attention I should have. I knew some Cheever classics, but my attetnion span in getting through this tome was not my best fresh out of graduate school, so this time I gave it a 7-month try to let me be ready to sit down and work at Cheevers pace through these stories. Cheever was one of the kings of suburban misery, but mostly in the latter half of this collection. Cheever himself put it best in his preface to this book, that the early stories show him as a young man @truly shocked to discover that genuinely decorous men and women admitted into their affairs erotic bitterness and even greed.@ For while stories like @The Enormous Radio@ and @Clancy in the Tower of Babel@ are genius in their own right, at around @The Country Husband@ these stories take a turn into pure, canonical, awesome (in the most literal sense) power. My education with Cheever had unfortunately started with the @The Fourth Alarm@; unfortunate only because this was Cheever at his height - funny and profound and charmingly lewd - and the early stuff always felt a little empty in comparison.

This time, I still hold that sentiment, but I still think the first half of this book is vital for doing what a lot of short fiction still fails at - to study the necessary miseries of people, how they form their own worlds and maybe get more than a little perturbed when others infiltrate their way in, an almost standard method of Cheevers to get into his most brilliant stories.

So start this book from the beginning to watch Cheever grow from the intrigued voyeur, like the brother in @Goodbye, My Brother@ who finds joy at being brutal to his own kin, to the wise narrator of @The Fourth Alarm@ who can strip down like his wife for some experimental NYC theatre but who is pleased to find out that he cant leave his keys behind, or Asa Bascomb, in @The World of Apples,@ who finds that his erotic impulses are as much of his poetry as the awards he wins. In the latter work, Cheever finds how people live with their grandeur and misery both.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Short fiction is a difficult genre, not only for writers but for readers. Entering a new story-world is like lowering yourself into cold water. It’s uncomfortable. It takes effort. With a novel, you only have to do it once and you are transported for hours, days, and weeks. That time is much more limited with a short story; you must settle for a sense of exhilaration, a frisson of pleasure or dread, or at the very least a somewhat modified outlook on your day. Most people don’t take the plunge.

I love short stories, but even with the best of them I find there’s usually an element of holding my nose to swallow the healthy medicine. This is true even with great masters of the form, like Hemingway or Denis Johnson or Alice Munro or Flannery O’Connor. So when the seven-hundred page brick of The Stories of John Cheever landed on my bedside bureau, I eyed it with some trepidation. I’ll just sample it, I thought. Read a few stories to familiarize myself with the work of a famous American mid-twentieth century writer. Keep it in the stack for a few months, dip in and out.

Well, that’s not what happened. I devoured the book from the front cover to the back, which means, I believe, that I’ve now read just about every piece of short fiction in Mr. Cheever’s oeuvre. And I’m here to tell you: it’s a hell of an oeuvre.

For the full review, click here: http://bit.ly/Kmj7R8

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