Customer Reviews


15 Reviews
5 star:
 (11)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poet of the Suburbs
Ten years ago when I packed in my job in London and moved back to my mother's place, my first project was to read John Cheever's stories from start to finish. Nobody does what Cheever does - he is romantic, spiritual and funny all at once. He loved the Bible and the atmosphere of a provincial church on a Sunday morning, but he also loved sex, gin and cigarettes. The...
Published on 27 Nov 2002 by JimOD

versus
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little overrated but still much to enjoy
There is a repetitiveness in theme and tone to Cheever's work. There is also at times a bitterness that almost seems to come from the author, not the narrator. Therefore, Cheever does not always achieve the psychic distance and objectivity that is often a hallmark of first rate short fiction.

Of the many stories Cheever wrote, there is still very much to enjoy...
Published on 8 Feb 2010 by Flibertigibbit


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poet of the Suburbs, 27 Nov 2002
By 
JimOD (Brighton, Sussex) - See all my reviews
Ten years ago when I packed in my job in London and moved back to my mother's place, my first project was to read John Cheever's stories from start to finish. Nobody does what Cheever does - he is romantic, spiritual and funny all at once. He loved the Bible and the atmosphere of a provincial church on a Sunday morning, but he also loved sex, gin and cigarettes. The stories follow the order they were published, beginning with his early New York tales of little people "making it" - or more often not making it. The scene gradually shifts to the suburbs, in which businessmen flounder in debt and lust, although they are often saved by something as simple as a vision of light through the trees. In "The Pot of Gold", an early story, a husband waits years for the moment when he will get rich, realising after many disappointments that his riches - his pot of gold - is his marriage. From another writer such a plot might just be sentimental, but Cheever is very good at describing the degradation of poverty in a society as money-oriented as America's. Most of these stories were written for the New Yorker, and like his hero Scott Fitzgerald, Cheever quickly developed a magazine style that could handle the big themes but is never ponderous.
The stories mainly deal with ordinary men who live ordinary lives, but the solutions to their problems are often extraordinary and miraculous. My own favourite is "The Country Husband", in which Francis Weed survives a plane crash and falls in love with his babysitter on the same day. Anyone who is looking for Updike without the politics, Hemingway without the macho stuff and Fitzgerald without the glamour will love these stories. Since I first read them ten years ago in my mother's house, I have reread them countless times and they have never lost their power.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American fiction at its best..., 16 Feb 2007
By 
Heather "star_reader" (Leeds, Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
John Cheever projects such a strong vision of a particular time and place in American history that i think it would be hard not to like these stories. They are, as individual stories, great achievements but as a collection these stories become something much more, they transport the reader into the heart of the post war American suburb, describing societies lonliest and most vunerable characters. Those for whom achieving their 'American Dream' is not an option but a necessity, it is their sheer belief that against all odds they will succeed, which keeps them going.

My personal favourites are those which describe Cheever's fictional 'Shady Hill' suburb, in particular, 'O Youth and Beauty' which tells the story of the once great sportsman Cash Bently who spends his weekends hurdling over the furniture in his neighbours houses, as a desperate attempt to win back some of his former glory.

This is a great collection, one which you will come back to time and again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Savagery of Cheever, 3 May 2010
By 
J. S. Lewison (Bolton, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I had never read Cheever before and this Vintage collection begins with a tale of reunion where a large family are reunited at some decaying holiday place on the coast. The most surprising ,member of the reunion is the youngest brother nicknamed Tifty, whose derision for his family is represented again and again throughout the story. Finally the narrator recognises that all his brother's energy is directed towards farewells and that such goodbyes reveal an innate sense of moral superiority that patronises and alienates all whom he encounters along life's road. The compression of:

'It was elegaic and it was bigoted and narrow, it mistook circumspection for character, and I wanted to help him.'

gives superb voice to the revelation of the brother's smallness of imagination and spirit. The surprise of the attempt at compassion is thwarted by the cruel consistency of Tifty's derision. The 'savage' then is released from the carefully guarded civility of the reunion and the narrator takes up a sea soaked root and delivers a cathartic blow across his brother's head. All respect for respect has gone. This blow is fierce and 'savage' and marks the conclusion of the youngest brother's relationship to his family. The narrator finishes his narrative with a transcendent, compassionate glimpse of his mother and wife bathing naked in the sea.

'Oh, what can you do with a man like that? ...How can you dissuade his eye in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand...

The sea that morning was irridescent 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. '

The naturalness and grace of mother and wife are communicated in a near mystical prose that celebrates the unique connection between human beings at a special moment in their time and that of the planet. The warmth of the narratorial viewpoint seems a welcome release after the prickly, guarded intimacies reprrsented throughout the rest of the story. Here, the women seem figures of myth; goddesses emerging out of the constraints of some narrow history, perfect figures of natural sensuality.

Ironically it is the act of savage retaliation against the constant negativity of the youngest brother that allows such mystical expression.

Sometimes as Cheever and Dylan Thomas both knew- only rage will do!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest short story writer of his generation, 3 Jun 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Collected Stories (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)
Nobody does the short story like John Cheever. There's something almost magical about his work - and I don't mean in the awful, corny, 'magic realist' sense - I mean that he creates a surprising, inexplicable effect from the subtlest of means. I've often read a JC story and thought, afterwards, 'what just happened? how did he do that?'. The narratives are often oblique or veiled - which is a quality I usually dislike, but Cheever pulls it off with aplomb. The stories are funny, sexy, sometimes shocking, often sad, and they get under the skin like nothing else. There are too many favourites to choose from but if you want a starting point have a crack at The Housebreaker of Shady Hill, Goodbye My Brother, and The Sorrows of Gin. One final point - these are not stories to be guzzled down in handfuls. They're like a good martini - to be taken slowly, one or two at a time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melt-in-the-mouth stories., 10 Sep 2007
Cheever is one of the best American short story writers of the 20th century, along with Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway, Richard Yates and Carver. He is not just a "poet of the suburbs"; he is describing YOU, wherever you live, breathe and have your being. His work is easily available and should be read by anyone who professes to be at all interested in writing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the content, but not the best binding around, 5 May 2010
By 
I can only echo what other reviewers have said. These stories are unlike anything else I've ever read. I only found out about them as I am a fan of Yates and his two collections of short stories with similar themes as those Cheever explores. But Cheever's lyrical, sentimental, yet shrewdly observant, and at times Kafkaesque style puts him in a league of his own.
Other reviews will point you to which stories to focus on first. I just want to make a small suggestion. This Vintage edition is simply too thick for the paperback quality they provide. The spine creases extremely easily and, as such a massive book has to be dipped into a lot, it ends up looking quite shabby. I actually decided to splash out on the hardcover edition from LOA (which includes additional material) and haven't regretted it one bit. But this is a minor issue, and a personal preference--the bottom line is that the stories are a masterpiece of literature in English.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to compare, 31 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Collected Stories (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)
It is hard for me to put my finger on why I like these stories so much - can't think of anything else I read like this? The stories pick apart American life, but are subtle in their narration. The tragedies of characters still clinging to an American dream in the face of their real situation - their optimism is so sad! Fantastic writing and good period pieces.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars America suburbia, 17 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Collected Stories (Vintage Classics) (Kindle Edition)
Years ago I saw "the swimmer" film with Burt Lancaster then I saw a review of John Cheever's work recently.
This is a great book, full of the minutiae of American suburbia, imagined dysfunctional people, and Americans abroad also feature.
Some stories are gentle, some have twists at the ending.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars No Happy Endings, 2 May 2011
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Reading this collection of John Cheever's short stories is like stumbling upon a 1950s black and white film or an early television series.

The picture is grainy, the dialogue inaudible at times, the voices a little too sharp or coy depending on the circumstances or sex of the speaker, the clothes old fashioned (men with hats and women with corsets and padded shoulders) and such prurience that you have to figure out what is happening rather than having it rammed down your throat as is the case today.

Cheever's characters are usually young to middle-aged middle-class couples - often with a daughter - whose public lives bear little or no relation to their private lives as individuals or as husbands and wives.

The viewpoint is usually that of the husband who is striving to retain his social status and cope with his personal problems at the same time, whether they are linked with his wife, children, relatives or employer.

So we experience angst and alcoholism, thwarted ambition, infidelity and failure in New York city and state, with walks along Fifth Avenue, stopping off for cocktails in bars and hotels, and holiday trips to the Arirondacks region and commutes to New England.

All washed down with a double martini.

Some stories, like The Superintendent, about the caretaker responsible for a building in New York, or Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor, about an elevator operator, show how things are seen from the other sides of the track.

Much of what Cheever writes has nothing to do with what is actually happening and only exists in the head of the character. One story, The Enormous Radio, epitomizes this. I won't even try and describe it. If you're interested, read it and tell me (and other Amazon readers) what you think. Another, The Hartleys, is so sad that I would not even recommend anyone read it.

I believe some of Cheever's notebooks were published after his death and his daughter wrote a memoir. I'm wondering if it is worth reading them as I have the feeling I would just be encountering someone I have already met in these stories.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential collection for fiction lovers, 22 Oct 2010
I had read bits and pieces of Cheever, but it took me a while to get into this. Two or three of the early pieces are quite slow, too. The solution? I had a sabbatical from anal-retentiveness and just started dipping in, choosing stories at random.

That's when I started to really get Cheever. His stories hinge, usually, on the most delicate psychological frameworks; in other words the epiphanies or climaxes, if there are any, are in the head rather than the action. And yet, for that, they never appear indulgent or fey, but get to the very heart of what matters (to almost quote Graham Green) in a devastatingly direct way.

One example is a story called The Tallboy, which might sound unpromising when you consider it's about a piece of furniture. But using this object as a focal point, and the fairly unremarkable plot of two brothers tussling over a family heirloom, it covers the hellish dangers of sentimentality and nostalgia for a family past long gone, in a way that will affect almost any reader. As someone who enjoys writing short stories myself, I came away deeply moved and inspired by his ability to evoke those nebulous, misty aspects of ourselves which are, all the same, the centre and the truth of our lives.

Another great story: The Swimmer. About a man who decides to swim home via his suburban neighbours' pools. Oh, but this story is about much, much more than that.

Right, back to the anal retentiveness. Listing Cheever's best stories alphabetically...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Collected Stories (Vintage Classics)
£7.99
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews