After the publication of his first fictional piece, “Expelled,” in the October 10, 1930, issue of The New Republic, more than two hundred John Cheever stories appeared in American magazines, chiefly The New Yorker. Fewer than half that number were reprinted in the seven collections Cheever published in his lifetime: The Way Some People Live (1943), The Enormous Radio, and Other Stories (1953), The Housebreaker of Shady Hill, and Other Stories (1958), Some People, Places, and Things That Will Not Appear in My Next Novel (1961), The Brigadier and the Golf Widow (1964), The World of Apples (1973), and The Stories of John Cheever (1978); the last of these includes all but the earliest collected stories and adds four previously uncollected pieces. In 1994, a collection titled Thirteen Uncollected Stories was published.
Cheever’s one television play, The Shady Hill Kidnapping, aired on January 12, 1982, to inaugurate the Public Broadcasting Service’s American Playhouse series. Cheever, however, made a clear distinction between fiction, which he considered humankind’s most exalted and intimate means of communication, and literary works written for television, film, and theater. Consequently, he remained aloof from all attempts to adapt his literary work—including the 1968 film version of his story “The Swimmer,” directed by Frank Perry and starring Burt Lancaster (which he found disappointing), and the adaptations of three of his stories televised by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1979. In addition, he rarely turned his considerable energies to the writing of articles and reviews. One large and fascinating body of Cheever’s writing is found in his journals, which he kept as part of a long family tradition.