GLAD TIDINGS by John D. Weaver

GLAD TIDINGS

A Friendship in Letters
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 When the editor and John Cheever met in the service in 1943- -they were both stationed in Queens--Cheever was already well along in his career as a short-story writer. For the next four decades, until Cheever's death in 1982, the two maintained a correspondence that is, not surprisingly, lopsided in quality. An amiable hack writer, Weaver intersperses among Cheever's 234 letters lots of chatty and curious material, much of it having little to do with Cheever. He quotes from his own journals and his wife's diaries, and the result is a true literary curiosity--an indulgence that can be as charming as it is exasperating. The meatiest letters from Cheever seem familiar from son Ben Cheever's earlier selection (1988), though Weaver never tells us exactly how many here are repeats. Nor does he explain his use of ellipses: When are they part of the letter and when do they indicate elisions by Weaver? In any case, Cheever's letters include vintage descriptions of domestic details; of chronic boozing; and of endless money problems. Cheever's humor at his own expense is always ingratiating, and his travel reports equal details in his fiction. All in all, though, both writers avoid being too serious, and live down to Cheever's own description of a good letter: It ``should be like a daisy in the field, charming for a moment, not much to smell, soon dead.'' A running joke about the ``wrinkled crotch'' in Cheever's pants grows tiresome, and suggests how little of substance the two friends discussed in their letters. Occasional brilliant passages by Cheever make up for Weaver's detailed brushes with fame. An oddity of interest only to Cheever fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-016957-5
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993