Sixty-one stories which—notwithstanding Cheever's four novels from The Wapshot Chronicle to Falconer—are the rock formation upon which his reputation truly rests. From the brief, self-deprecating preface: "These stories date from my Honorable Discharge from the Army at the end of World War II. Their order is, to the best of my memory, chronological and the most embarrassingly immature pieces have been dropped." Thus, the collection consists principally of the contents of five previous volumes: The Enormous Radio; The Housebreaker of Shady Hill; Some People, Places, And Things That Will Not Appear In My Next Novel; The Brigadier and The Golf Widow; and The Worm of Apples. Included, of course, are such famed tales as "The Swimmer," and the full, limited range of Cheever's preoccupations—marriage, suburbia, Manhattan, the middle class, the technological society, Italy, decency—is on constant display: the well-known "rut" that he broke out of with Falconer. Even when slightly dated or rarified, the stories remain sinfully readable, with those legendarily seductive opening lines—e.g. "The first time I robbed Tiffany's it was raining." True, the all-in-one format may not be terribly flattering to a single-note style. (First line of "The Swimmer": "It was one of those midsummer Sundays. . ." First line of "The Geometry of Love": "It was one of those rainy late afternoons. . .") And Cheever's latest, more freewheeling stories—like "The President of the Argentine"—are not included. But, if those earlier collections are not within reach, this mamoth grouping of small, polished pleasures is a luxurious necessity.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1978

ISBN: 0375724427

Page Count: 971

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1978



It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990



The thirty-one stories of the late Flannery O'Connor, collected for the first time. In addition to the nineteen stories gathered in her lifetime in Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965) and A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) there are twelve previously published here and there. Flannery O'Connor's last story, "The Geranium," is a rewritten version of the first which appears here, submitted in 1947 for her master's thesis at the State University of Iowa.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0374515360

Page Count: 555

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1971

Close Quickview