Published April 15, 2009
Upon his death in 1982, John Cheever was hailed as one of the preeminent American writers of his time. Obituary writers eulogized his sweet ardor for the gloriously ordinary. Time honored him as “A Celebrant of Sunlight.” The Boston Globe praised his ability to spread delight, and declared, “In a world of Calibans, John Cheever was pure Prospero: he, too, bestowed magic.” William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker, which had published 121 of Cheever’s short stories, poked his bashful head out of his lair long enough to hail Cheever as “one of the great literary figures of the last fifty years.” It was fully expected that posterity would place its seal upon the esteem of Cheever’s contemporaries and grant him permanent genius status. Now the Library of America is doing what it can to ratify such status, with two volumes of Cheever’s writings: one of stories and occasional essays, the other of his complete novels—The Wapshot Chronicle (1957), The Wapshot Scandal (1964), Bullet Park (1969), Falconer (1977), and Oh What a Paradise It Seems (1982).
[To read the rest of this article from Commentary magazine, click here.]