John Cheever 1912–1982
American short story writer and novelist.
Cheever's fictional world is suburban New York and New England, and his typical characters are of the upper middle class. This closed, serene social milieu often contrasts sharply with the chaos and despair experienced by his characters. Overall, Cheever is a humanist; he believes in the rejuvenative power of love and treats his protagonists with compassion. Wit and elegance are consistently present in his prose.
Cheever received his first significant critical attention for The Wapshot Chronicle, which won the National Book Award in 1958. The Stories of John Cheever, a collection of all of Cheever's previously published short fiction and some new material, reenforced his reputation as a major American writer. This volume won several major literary awards in 1979, including a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics' Circle Award.
Cheever's last work, Oh What a Paradise It Seems, written before his recent death, is a novella which addresses familiar Cheeveresque themes of redemption and rejuvenation. Although critical reception of this recent book is varied, the consistent quality of the Cheever canon has indisputably placed Cheever among the ranks of America's great storytellers.
(See also CLC, Vols. 3, 7, 8, 11, 15; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 7-8, rev. ed., Vol. 106, rev. ed. [obituary]; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 5; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 2; Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1980.)