“Few prose writers can touch Cheever for the painterly precision of his descriptions, and the reward of them too…” – T.C. Boyle
Earlier this year I finally finished John Cheever’s collected stories. I can’t remember when I started it – it had to at least have been five years ago. So, yes, I am a slow reader. Perhaps the more so when I want to savor a writer’s writing. And Cheever’s writing, for me, is worth savoring. The collection had sixty-one stories spread over almost seven hundred pages.
Of those sixty-one, fifteen stood out to me as exceptional. But all of them were wonderful because, in some way that I cannot, nor do I wish to, explain, Cheever’s writing, his way of stringing words together, strikes a resonant chord within me. It would be somewhat absurd for me to give examples, since if you are not in tune to his way of writing in the way that I seem to be, nothing will be proved. But it is interesting to ponder that, in a way similar to music, my brain reacts to his tone, his murmuring voice in my ear, as if I am a bell that has been struck. T.C. Boyle spoke of Cheever’s stories for NPR’s You Must Read This series. You can read what he wrote on the NPR website, but I think it is much better to listen to him:
Well, to find writing that vibrates with your being on a primal level is a beautiful gift to a reader. Unknowingly I think, for the fiction reader that is the fundamental reason to read fiction. To have someone tell us a story in a voice that is irresistible. To think, I don’t care where we are going, just keep talking please.