John Cheever (May 27, 1912–June 18, 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer, sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs." His The Stories of John Cheever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1979.


Dos Passos, E. E. Cummings, James Agee, and James Farrell. Cheever attended Thayer Academy for high school but never graduated because he was expelled for smoking. In 1933 he first attended the Yaddo writers' colony in Saratoga Springs - a place to which he was to return regularly for the rest of his life.

Cheever and his wife Mary, a poet and teacher, became the parents of three children: Susan, Benjamin and Frederico. They raised their family at Ossining, in New York's Westchester County. Cheever wrestled with alcoholism all of his adult life.


Cheever's major subject was the manners and morals of middle-class, suburban America, and he utilized an ironic humor and a love of light to soften his basically dark vision. As Cheever described his characters in the preface to The Stories of John Cheever:

Here is the last of that generation of chain smokers who woke the world in the morning with their coughing, who used to get stoned at cocktail parties and perform obsolete dance steps like "the Cleveland Chicken", sail for Europe on ships, who were truly nostalgic for love and happiness, and whose gods were as ancient as yours and mine, whoever you are. The constants that I look for in this sometimes dated paraphernalia are a love of light and a determination to trace some moral chain of being.

Although he wrote several novels, Cheever was most noted for his short stories, which he contributed to The New Yorker and other leading publications over the course of several decades. The best of these were collected in The Stories of John Cheever (1979). Cheever's novels, meanwhile, include The Wapshot Chronicle (1957), The Wapshot Scandal (1964), Bullet Park (1969), Falconer (1977), and Oh, What a Paradise It Seems (1982). Other short story collections included The Way Some People Live (1943), The Enormous Radio, and Other Stories (1953), The Housebraker of Shady Hill (1958), Some People, Places, and Things That Will Not Appear in My Next Novel (1961), and The World of Apples (1973).

The Wapshot Chronicle won the National Book Award in 1958, as did the paperback edition of The Stories of John Cheever in 1981. The Stories of John Cheever also won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 1978 National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1968, Cheever's short story The Swimmer was made into a film starring Burt Lancaster.


Cheever died in 1982, at the age of 70, in Ossining, New York. In 1987, his widow, Mary, signed a contract with a small publisher, Academy Chicago, for the right to publish Cheever's uncollected short stories. The contract led to a long legal battle, and a book of 13 stories by the author, published in 1994. Two of Cheever's children, Susan Cheever and Benjamin Cheever, became writers. Susan Cheever's memoir, Home Before Dark, revealed Cheever's bisexuality, which was confirmed by his posthumously published letters and journals. Cheever claimed in his diaries to have been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) by a marriage counselor that his wife forced him to see.


  • Cheever's bisexuality was referenced in an episode of the television sitcom Seinfeld, "The Cheever Letters", in which correspondence from Cheever is discovered, revealing Cheever had an affair with the fictional character of Susan Ross' father. However, the character George Costanza incorrectly names the title of Cheever's short prison novel Falconer (the name of the prison) as The Falconer.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, namely "All's Fair in Oven War", John Cheever is referenced by Chief Wiggum. Bart Simpson and Milhouse discover "Playdude" magazines and Bart's treehouse goes Playboy mansion, sans women. All the magazines were excised of explicit pictures by Marge. John Cheever is referenced by Chief Wiggum when he busts the treehouse.


  • The Way Some People Live: A Book of Short Stories (1943)
  • The Enormous Radio and Other Stories (1953)
  • The Day the Pig Fell Into the Well (1954)
  • Stories (1956)
  • The Wapshot Chronicle (1957)
  • The Housebreaker at Shady Hill and Other Stories (1958)
  • Some People, Places and Things That Will Not Appear In My Next Novel (1961)
  • The Wapshot Scandal (1964)
  • The Brigadier and the Golf Widow (1964) - include<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="">s 'The Swimmer'
  • Homage to Shakespeare (1965)
  • Bullet Park (1969)
  • The World of Apples (1973)
  • Falconer (1977)
  • The Stories of John Cheever (1978)
  • The Leaves, the Lionfish and the Bear (1980)
  • Oh, What a Paradise It Seems (1982)
  • The Journals of John Cheever (1991)

External links

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