Magazine
Latest Issue

Tales of talent and cruelty

A biography of one of America’s greatest short-story writers eloquently depicts his battles with drink and depression, but fails to link that man to his art

By William Skidelsky   December 2009

John Cheever at his home in Ossining, New York, 6th October 1979

Cheever: A Life By Blake Bailey (Picador, £25)

Literary history is dotted with writers who came to despise the works that made them famous. Arthur Conan Doyle churned out 56 short stories and four novels featuring Sherlock Holmes, yet considered his historical fiction to be his only “important” work. When William Golding reread his first novel, Lord of the Flies, two decades after it was published, he found it “boring and crude… O-level stuff.” The big creative problem of John Cheever’s life was that he was a first-rate…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect