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The John Cheever Audio Collection by John…

The John Cheever Audio Collection (2003)

by John Cheever

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I had read only a couple of John Cheever's short stories before, and listening to these offerings as read by well-known actors (with two read by Cheever himself) made me realize what a sad gap in my reading life that was. I will have to read more, and soon.

Without going into a protracted and possibly irritating analysis of all the things that make these stories so effective, so well-written, so evocative, and so knowing, I simply can't give a good account of all their fine qualities. What struck me was not how "dated" the stories sounded but how rich with detail, observation, and perspective they were. I haven't done a proper study of the evolution of the American literary tradition in the short form, but many of the offerings of more recent vintage that I've come across seem to have jettisoned these traits in favor of a more immediate and more cartoonish approach. It's as if writers have conceded that readers can't be counted on to show up and pick their way through ALL THOSE WORDS just to find out that ordinary people are more complicated and more flawed than we usually believe them to be. So, kapow, they instead pare things down to the hastily drawn, the fantastic, the outlandish, and, it seems, the relatively pointless.

Or, no, not the pointless. I've read a lot of contemporary stories that are bristling with points. But somehow the points don't come leavened with a necessary helping of recognizable humanity. They don't linger. They don't, for lack of a better word, instruct.

See, this is just what I was talking about. I can't give a proper critique of Cheever's stories, because there's a context here that's important to my enjoying them as I much as I have. Let's just leave it at that: I really liked them.

( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
no quede del todo satisfecho. no se si fue por la seleccion de cuentos por que por otro lado me parece evidente que sabe escribir. sabe como narrar, es un buen observador, es un prosista elegante. pero los cuentos son un poco repetitivos. muchos hombres borrachos insensibles y abusadores, y mujeres frustradas. mucho resentiemiento. algunas situaciones medio facilongas y esquematicas. lo mas interesante y lo que mas me tuvo pensando fueron los gender roles. muchos cuentos tienen que ver precisamente con esas relaciones y esos roles. desde hoy dia es escalofriante que las mujeres recibian allowances. los que leen los cuentos en audio me parecieron -con excepcion de plimpton- muy buenos. cheever leyendo su cuento es un chiste. sorprendente que haya pasado por heterosexual. ( )
  mejix | Dec 23, 2009 |
Preparing for career week in high school, the guidance counselor asked what type of job I wanted to have. I told him I wanted to be an author. He asked what type of writing I wanted to do, and I replied that I wanted to write stories based on the suburban experience. "You should read John Cheever," he suggested and then assigned me to an internship with the local newspaper. Of course, I didn't listen to his suggestion and didn't read John Cheever until now (with one exception).

I was drawn to the Audion Collection from an episode of To The Best of Our Knowledge which featured clips of the stories read by Meryl Streep, Blythe Danner, George Plympton, and Cheever himself among others. I am pretty amazed by these scenes of middle-class life in post-WWII America. The stories describe a time gone by but still very familiar as it captures an era that was coming to an end in my childhood. Cheever captures the everyday grief, mundacity, and petty jealousies of his characters. Sometimes his stories take on a surreal Twilight Zone feel as in "The Enormous Radio" where the titular device broadcasts the conversations of other residents in an apartment building or "The Swimmer" where a man attempts to swim home through all the backyard swimming pools in his neighborhood on a journey that takes years. There also is a time an O'Henry feel in stories like "Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor" where in an ironic twist a poor elevator man requires more gifts than he knows what to do with.

The stories are grim, the characters are unlikable, but there's something in the gritty humanity of Cheever's stories that make me like them and want to read more. Credit should be given to the voice actors who bring these stories to life as well. ( )
1 vote Othemts | Jun 18, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060554835, Audio CD)

Here are twelve magnificent stories in which John Cheever celebrates -- with unequaled grace and tenderness -- the deepest feelings we have.

As Cheever writes in his preface, 'These stories seem at times to be stories of a long-lost world when the city of New York was still filled with a river light, when you heard the Benny Goodman quartets from a radio in the corner stationery store, and when almost everybody wore a hat.'

John Cheever was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1912. He is the author of seven collections of stories and five novels. His first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle, won the 1958 National Book Award. In 1965 he received the Howells Medal for Fiction from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1978 The Stories of John Cheever won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Shortly before his death, in 1982, he was awarded the National Medal for Literature from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Benjamin Cheever is the author of The Plagiarist, The Parisian and Famous after Death.

The Enormous Radio read by Meryl Streep
The Five-Forty-Eight read by Edward Herrmann
O City of Broken Dreams read by Blythe Danner
Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor read by George Plimpton
The Season of Divorce read by Edward Herrmann
The Brigadier and the Golf Widow read by Peter Gallagher
The Sorrows of Gin read by Meryl Streep
O Youth and Beauty! read by Peter Gallagher
The Chaste Clarissa read by Blythe Danner
The Jewels of the Cabots read by George Plimpton
The Death of Justina read by John Cheever
The Swimmer read by John Cheever

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:46 -0400)

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A collection of short stories, punctuated by excerpts from an archival recording of the author reading his works.

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