THE BRIGADIER AND THE GOLF WIDOW by John Cheever
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THE BRIGADIER AND THE GOLF WIDOW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

      This collection of short stories, all of them from The New Yorker which does not diminish any appreciation of their reappearance here, presents Cheever in the medium in which he was not only first established but is perhaps, critically, most valued. Not that the stories or the Wapshot novels are very disparate in either tone or theme, dealing as they do with a sense of estrangement in what should be that most secure world, the upper middle class. Cheever's paradise lost is for the most part suburbia; there are gazebos on the lawn; bomb shelters underneath. Somewhat faceless, characters (Cheever deals in archetypes) appear and disappear in a world which, for all its familiarity, is very menacing. It is also bewildering ("the lateness of my time of life and my inability to understand the things I often see"). And frequently despair triggers an antic feat:  the furniture-hurdling husband of an earlier story appears again in “The Swimmer” making his cross county, pool to pool return to the home he has lost. Then there's the preposterous fear of “Angel on a Bridge,” or the rejection of modern life; the dreadful civic and cultural zeal of “An Educated American Woman,” which kills her son and destroys her marriage; the disconsolate “The Seaside Houses,” where a summer tenant has a stranger's life to exercise. These, along with a fine Italian piece, “The Bella Lingua,” are characteristic and notable examples of Cheever's gifts as a fabulist obsessed with individual bankruptcy in an affluent society. They all express an irredeemable sense of loss and loneliness.

ISBN: 0575009071
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1964




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