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Cheever, John

lives stories ‘the wapshot

(US, 1912–82)

Cheever published stories in the New Yorker from the mid-1930s onwards, gaining the reputation of a superb stylist chronicling the unease, depressions, and adulteries lurking in the lives of affluent suburban America. The Stories of John Cheever (1978) brings together five earlier collections and contains much of his best work, such as ‘The Swimmer’ and ‘The Seaside Houses’, haunting tales of loss. His novels work variations on the theme of lives shaken up by crises; The Wapshot Chronicle (1957) and its sequel The Wapshot Scandal (1964) tell of the rise and fall of a family in a small New England town. Bullet Park (1969) was commercially unsuccessful, but its evocation of moral disarray and darkness within the commuter classes is very powerful; the lives of two men, Hammer and Nailles, eventually clash. Oh What a Paradise it Seems (1982) is an elegiac short novel in which an ageing bisexual man tries to save his local skating pond from development.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Updike  JS

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