4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A little overrated but still much to enjoy,
This review is from: Collected Stories (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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 and his world is absorbing. There is much sorrow and yearning and many of his characters lead "lives of quiet desperation", to use Thoreau's words. Cheever's language eschews the sparseness of Hemingway and his many followers - he is more expansive and lyrical. Which is not to say that Hemingway is not a poet - he is, but in a different way.
"The Swimmer" and "Reunion" are rightly considered classics. These are outstanding stories by any reckoning, but too many of the others fall somewhat short of that high standard. Cheever wrote most of his stories during a time when there was still a market for short fiction. I suspect that this may have led him to rush some of his stories for publication. Some of the supposed classics like "Goodbye My Brother" are to my mind, a little tedious and too long. "O City of Broken Dreams" is a superior story. "Torch Song" is an arresting and disturbing tale that seems overlooked.