Thirteen Uncollected Stories by John Che

John Cheever, Author, Franklin Dennis, Editor, George W. Hunt, Introduction by
John Cheever, Author, Franklin Dennis, Editor, George W. Hunt, Introduction by Academy Chicago Publishers $19.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-89733-405-1
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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Having failed in a previous effort to publish a much larger collection because of opposition from the Cheever family, the publisher here offers a truncated selection of stories now in the public domain. This is still a book well worth having, showing the earliest work of a writer who went on to greater things but who even in his creative youth showed ample evidence of his gifts. The earliest stories, written when the author was barely out of his teens, are heavily influenced by Hemingway and the dour social realism of the Depression. With ``The Autobiography of a Drummer'' (1935), however, though the social conscience remains, a real voice, capable of remarkable mimicry, is emerging. This is a short, painful tale with something of the impact of Death of a Salesman . And ``In Passing'' (1936), a touching parable about a crumbling family and a rootless Communist agitator, has real force. ``Bayonne'' and ``The Princess'' are well-observed character sketches of tough-vulnerable women of the time, and ``The Man She Loved''--set, like several of these stories, in Saratoga, where Cheever was a resident at the Yaddo writers' colony--shows how cleverly he can build surprising confrontations by indirection. It is always good to see a great writer advancing in his craft, and it is a shame the collection could not have been much more extensive. (Mar.)
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