THE STORIES OF JOHN CHEEVER
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.