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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Appreciating John Cheever

Writer John Cheever.

Even though he has won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for his short stories, John Cheever may not be at the top of your reading list — and Here and Now pop culture critic Renee Graham thinks that’s a shame.

She developed a love for his work as a college student.

Graham grew up in the inner city, in a lower middle class family and said Cheever changed her thinking.

“You tend to think that upper middle class white people have it all figured out,” she said. “Then suddenly I read Cheever and I go ‘Oh my God–they don’t have it all figured out.’”

She finds his stories beautifully written. “There’s a lot of humor, a lot of poignancy…they’re so beautifully alive,they’re going to be resonant for generations to come,” she said.

Renee Graham’s recommended Cheever reading list

  • The Country Husband
  • The Five Forty Eight
  • O Youth and Beauty
  • The Swimmer
  • The Enormous Radio

Guest:

  • Renee Graham, Here and Now pop culture critic

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Cmbyl

    This was a wonderful interview, and such a good reminder that real literature interests us across demographic lines, not just within them.

  • Damfarmgirl

    Faulty logic ascribing all kinds of modern works to Cheever’s influence, when there is no proof any of those creators have ever read him! This is basic stuff, and distressing on your program because it encourages listeners to engage in the same kind of logical falsity. 
    Correlation does not imply causation (cum hoc ergo propter hoc)

    • Hearsayu

      She said you can see Cheever everywhere. That just suggests that he has become such a part of the American fabric that his stories have reached beyond people who have read him. Nobody stated that there was a direct influence. 

  • mjsoutha

    goodbye my brother and the swimmer are perfect stories – perfect in style, perfect in storytelling, perfect in their incredible accessibility and strangeness. Cheever, like Renee Graham said, is up there with the best American short story writers: O’Connor, Denis Johnson, Hemingway. 

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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