Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Home Before Dark by Susan Cheever


Interesting companion book along with John Cheever's own fiction in journals. SC is a bit of a poseur, but she quotes eloquently from her father's writing and from what others wrote about him.

"He was a man who made his own world in relative isolation from most of his kind,"  my brother Fred wrote when I asked him to put down what he remembered about our father. "As a result he had to live with his own impulses and perceptions in ways that most of us can avoid. No one, absolutely no one shared his life with him. There was no one from whom he could get honest advice. Of course this state of affairs was very much his own doing, but it must have been hard sometimes." (p. 154-155)

'My incantation has changed,'' he wrote in 1969 after ''Bullet Park'' had been panned by the critics and his alcoholism was worse and most of the money was spent. ''I am no longer sitting under an apple tree in clean chinos reading. I am sitting naked in the yellow chair in the dining room. In my hand there is a large crystal glass filled to the brim with honey colored whiskey. There are two ice cubes in the whiskey. I am smoking six or seven cigarettes and thinking contentedly about my interesting travels in Egypt and Russia. When the glass is empty I fill it again with ice and whiskey and light another cigarette although there are several burning in the ashtray. I am sitting naked in a yellow chair drinking whiskey and smoking six or seven cigarettes.'' (p. 155)

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