· A revealing self-portrait: In addition to his novels and short stories, John Cheever wrote a prodigious number of letters—sometimes thirty in a week. In The Letters of John Cheever , edited and annotated by his son Benjamin, Cheever reveals his most private thoughts to friends, famous writers, family, and lovers—all of whom he encouraged to discard what he wrote. “Saving letters is like trying to preserve a kiss,” he said. As a result, these letters form a story that is even more candid than his journals, and as vivid and human as any he ever invented..
· An intriguing literary icon: Cheever, a complex and contradictory man, “was an adulterer who wrote eloquently in praise of monogamy ... a bisexual who detested any sign of sexual ambiguity.” Cheever was a stranger to those closest to him and presented to the world what he thought it wanted to see. These letters display the stark contrast between his ambitions and weaknesses, while tracing his evolution as an artist. .
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Benjamin Cheever, the author of four novels and two works of nonfiction, has also been a newspaper reporter and an editor at Reader's Digest. He lives in Pleasantville, New York, with his wife and sons.From Publishers Weekly:
John Cheever's letters aren't great literaturethey weren't meant to bebut his unmistakable voice comes through on every page. Bristling with his sardonic wit and "rock-bottom irritability," they reveal a man of dark contradictions: an ardent heterosexual in public, Cheever despised his own secret bisexuality; he scorned the upper-middle class but desperately needed its approval. Letters track a romantic affair with actress Hope Lange, a competitive friendship with John Updike and dialogues with Saul Bellow, Josephine Herbst, Malcolm Cowley, Frederick Exley and Philip Roth. In the late 1960s, Cheever's merry, heavy-drinking attitude swiftly turned into family tragedy. Benjamin Cheever, the novelist's son, interweaves affectionate commentaries with the letters, telling what it was like to be reared by a famous writer who was an alcoholic. In the most affecting letters, every word is in place as Cheever paints a real-life character, comments on contemporary fiction or lays bare his frustrations. We follow the writer from a $3-a-week Greenwich Village room to the wilds of Westchester, N.Y.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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