Thirteen Uncollected Stories By John Cheever

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9780897334051: Thirteen Uncollected Stories By John Cheever

A gathering of thirteen never-before-collected stories, originally published in the 1930s and 1940s, shows Cheever's use of unusual themes, techniques, and characters early in his career and gives a vivid picture of life during the Depression.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

After years of litigation between the publisher and Cheever's estate, this collection of 13 stories now in the public domain proves something of a disappointment. While Cheever fans will be grateful for a sampling of his juvenilia, others should be warned that these pieces are hardly typical of his best work. Most first appeared in the 30's and bear the marks of their time as well as the influence of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Depression fiction. The earliest stories, from small avant-garde magazines, stress atmosphere over character; they're bleak, abstract expressions of social jitters during an anxious era of poverty and decline. When Cheever begins to find a voice, his fictions become more convincing. A pre-Miller, post-Dreiser traveling shoe-salesman (``The Autobiography of a Drummer'') laments his once thriving business. ``In Passing'' records Cheever's dissatisfaction with left-wing ideology as his young protagonist drifts through lean times. A number of stories deal with working women at turning points: a waitress who suddenly realizes how empty her routine is (``Bayonne''); a hard-working dancer, hired to lend legitimacy to a strip show, who loses herself in her stage persona (``The Princess''); a 52-year-old stripper who, with great dignity, shows she hasn't lost it (``The Teaser''); and a young nanny who reveals a surprisingly refined aesthetic sense (``The Opportunity''). Equally clever and in the same commercial vein are three stories from Collier's, all set on the fringes of high society in the world of horse-racing. With an O. Henryish twist, ``His Young Wife'' pits an older man against his wife's infatuation with a gambler her own age; ``Saratoga'' also testifies to the gambler's insatiable habits; and in ``The Man She Loved,'' a socially ambitious dowager manqu‚ is determined that her daughter marry well. Cruel fate, not dysfunction, reigns in these clever narratives. At best, middle-brow fiction in the O'Hara-Cozzens mold. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Having failed in a previous effort to publish a much larger collection because of opposition from the Cheever family, the publisher here offers a truncated selection of stories now in the public domain. This is still a book well worth having, showing the earliest work of a writer who went on to greater things but who even in his creative youth showed ample evidence of his gifts. The earliest stories, written when the author was barely out of his teens, are heavily influenced by Hemingway and the dour social realism of the Depression. With "The Autobiography of a Drummer" (1935), however, though the social conscience remains, a real voice, capable of remarkable mimicry, is emerging. This is a short, painful tale with something of the impact of Death of a Salesman . And "In Passing" (1936), a touching parable about a crumbling family and a rootless Communist agitator, has real force. "Bayonne" and "The Princess" are well-observed character sketches of tough-vulnerable women of the time, and "The Man She Loved"--set, like several of these stories, in Saratoga, where Cheever was a resident at the Yaddo writers' colony--shows how cleverly he can build surprising confrontations by indirection. It is always good to see a great writer advancing in his craft, and it is a shame the collection could not have been much more extensive.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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John Cheever
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John Cheever
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Cheever, John
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