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Add This - Cheever

Written by Blake BaileyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Blake Bailey

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 816 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: March 9, 2010
  • Price: $16.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-4000-7968-1 (1-4000-7968-3)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

John Cheever spent much of his career impersonating a perfect suburban gentleman, the better to become one of the foremost chroniclers of postwar America. Written with unprecedented access to essential sources—including Cheever’s massive journal, only a fraction of which has ever been published—Bailey’s Cheever is a stunning example of the biographer’s art and a brilliant tribute to an essential author.

A New York Times Notable Book

“A triumph of thorough research and unblinkered appraisal.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

“A definitive, Dickensian rendering of a complete and complicated life, addictively readable and long overdue.” —Bret Anthony Johnston, The New York Times

“Beautifully woven, deeply researched, and delightfully free of isms. . . . Here’s Cheever at the center of the storm.” —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

“Fascinating. . . . Bailey counter[s] both his subject’s soaring enthusiasms and paranoid forebodings with clear-eyed judgment.” —David Propson, The Wall Street Journal

“So wise and serious, so human an account. . . . Even more eloquent and resourceful than Bailey’s celebrated biography of Richard Yates.”
—Geoffrey Wolff, The New York Times Book Review

“Sympathetic and deeply engaging. . . . This book is also a portrait of the twentieth century.” —Jacob Molyneux, San Francisco Chronicle

“[Bailey’s] life of Cheever is an impressive, even a beautiful, achievement.” —Algis Valiunas, Commentary

“[An] expansive, wonderfully written biography. . . . Unstinting. . . . Bracing. . . . To read Bailey on Cheever is to arrive at a much fuller appreciation of a deeply gifted chronicler of American life.” —Matt Shaer, Christian Science Monitor

“A portrait of the man drawn judiciously but compellingly and in harrowing detail . . . . [A] fine biography.” —Richard Lacayo, Time

“Elegant. . . An insightful, clear-eyed life of the man.” —The Economist

“Surely definitive. . . . [Bailey] gets down his subject’s humorous staying power, even in the midst of spiritual turmoil.” —William Pritchard, Boston Globe

“Masterful.” —Nathan Heller, Slate

“Exceptional. . . . Along with sensitivity and dispassionate thoroughness, it’s his smooth blending of sources into a readable narrative that sets Bailey apart as a biographer.” —Jeffrey Burke, Bloomberg News

“Exemplary. . . . Bailey has brought [Cheever’s] life into such eloquent relief that it’s easy to imagine Cheever, if only for a moment, finally feeling like someone understood him.” —Gregg LaGambina, A. V. Club

“Definitive. . . . Judicious and nuanced. . . . Mr. Bailey’s research is impeccable and exhaustive—a mighty feat.”—Adam Begley, The New York Observer

“Bailey’s thorough new biography completes the total revolution of our image of the man has undergone in the quarter century since his death.”
—Jonathan Dee, Harper’s

“Tremendous. . . . Magisterial. . . . Bailey [is] a great biographer, utterly dogged and indefatigable about telling details.” —Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News

“Impressive. . . . Finely written. . . . Bailey has done a near-perfect job of making the connections between the man and his masterpieces.” —Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

“Fascinating . . . . Powerfully moving . . . . A brilliant example of literary biography at its best.” —Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch.”

“Quite successfully sorts out the facts, masks and contradictions of this unique American life.” —John Barron, Chicago Sun-Times

“The appearance of Bailey’s poised, thorough biography is both timely and corrective . . . Bailey presents his subject in all his contradictory fullness . . . Cheever: A Life succeeds by balancing insight, judgment, empathy, and clarity.” —Floyd Skloot, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Bailey has achieved what I (along with many others) thought well-nigh impossible: an outstanding, exhaustive (but never exhausting), clear-eyed and evenhanded biography of Cheever and a literary triumph in its own right.”—George W. Hunt, America

“Magnificent.” —Maud Newton, Barnes and Noble Review

 “An extraordinary book. Bailey captures the man inside the man, perhaps the hardest thing to do. John Cheever lives in this book—the whole complicated, bottomless mess of lonely good cheer and the pain of him. Even, perhaps especially, the character that Cheever (as writer) made out of the tortured, inviolable hardwood of himself. And the larger story is here too, that of the terrible price one pays for one's art. It both sustained Cheever and destroyed him. I stayed up all night reading this biography. I couldn't put it down.” —Philip Schultz, author of Failure (Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)

“Like Bailey’s fine biography of Richard Yates, Cheever is full of intelligence, clarity, and kindliness toward its subject, without losing an ounce of judiciousness. It is also deeply and utterly readable, even eloquent. It honors its subject with grace and candor and subtle understanding. A richly rewarding treatment of one of our very best.” —Richard Bausch, author of Peace

“This is pitch-perfect biography–merciless and deeply compassionate in equal parts, psychologically and literarily acute to the nth degree, and beautifully written, without a whiff of cant or pretension. Like its subject, it’s by turns heartrending and laugh-out-loud funny, and while it renders his every foible with Chuck Close-like precision, it never for a second undercuts his goddamn nobility–a quantity that’s in miserably short supply in these wretched times.” —James Kaplan, author of Two Guys from Verona

“Stunningly detailed…so wise and serious, so human an account…both arresting and disturbing…Even more eloquent and resourceful than Bailey’s celebrated biography of Richard Yates. [Bailey] seems to me as good an interpreter of Cheever’s stories and novels as I have read…His sketches of dozens of characters who were touched by Cheever are short stories in themselves, and he sometimes bores right to the center of complex relationships, revealing their essence in a sentence.” —Geoffrey Wolff, The New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating…Mr. Bailey meticulously demonstrates that Cheever was an artist who worked from life…drawing on unprecedented access to Cheever’s papers and family, Mr. Bailey approaches his subject like a concerned parole officer…countering both his subject’s soaring enthusiasms and paranoid forebodings with clear-eyed judgment.” –David Propson, Wall Street Journal

“A triumph of thorough research and unblinkered appraisal.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

“Sympathetic and deeply engaging…Bailey dramatizes Cheever’s resolute self-creation and its considerable psychic costs through the use of adroitly interwoven narrative strands…This book is also a portrait of the twentieth century.” —Jacob Molyneux, San Francisco Chronicle