John Cheever was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1912, the son of a prosperous Yankee salesman. As a child, Cheever's life was thrown into turmoil when his father lost his business, forcing Cheever's mother to open up a gift shop and jeopardizing the family's pedigree. Cheever's formal education ended when he dropped out of prep school; ultimately, he moved to New York City and focused on becoming a writer.
Cheever rose to prominence as a short story writer, publishing in a number of magazines early in his career; the New Yorker, where Cheever first appeared in 1935, went on to publish over 100 of his stories. Cheever's first collection, The Way Some People Live, was published in 1943, while Cheever was in the army...Show More »
His second collection, The Enormous Radio, came out in 1953, followed by his first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle, which won the National Book Award in 1958. Cheever published four more story collections; other novels include The Wapshot Scandal (1964), Bullet Park (1969), and the 1977 best seller Falconer. Following this novel's success, The Stories of John Cheever was released in 1978 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award. The volume has gone on to sell over 100,000 copies in hardcover.
Cheever lived most of his life in Westchester County, New York, and he — and his fiction — became synonymous with genteel suburban life, dubbed "Cheever Country" by critics and readers. His novels and stories explored the opposing forces and dark struggles within human nature, and often evoked a nostalgic longing for the comforts of tradition and community. Cheever, who battled alcoholism for much of his life, died of cancer in 1982, the year his novel Oh What a Paradise It Seems was published, and six weeks after he was awarded the National Medal for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Volumes of Cheever's letters and journals have been published posthumously. Two of Cheever's three children, Susan and Benjamin, are also writers.