Google Search

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Cheever remembered at centennial

By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

Sunday would have been the 100th birthday of John Cheever, the great short story writer and novelist (Falconer, The Wapshot Chronicle, Bullet Park) who died in 1982 but continues to be cited as an influence by contemporary writers including Dave Eggers and Rick Moody.

As part of the Cheever centennial, Random House, one of his publishers, notes that Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men, the hit TV show set in the '60s, keeps copies of Cheever's books in his office for inspiration.

Mad Men viewers and Cheever readers also may have noticed that an episode in the third season (when Don Draper's wife, Betty, takes up a local political cause) was inspired by Cheever's story "An Educated American Woman."

Random House also is offering some "Cheever trivia:"

-- Cheever's story, "The Swimmer," made into a 1968 movie starring Burt Lancaster, featured a cameo by Cheever himself as one of the neighbors.

-- The early seasons of Mad Men were set in part in Cheever's adopted hometown, Ossining, N.Y., a suburb 30 miles north of Manhattan. In the first few seasons, Don Draper and his family lived on the fictional Bullet Park Road after the 1969 Cheever novel "Bullet Park." ( A 1964 Time cover story on Cheever proclaimed him "Ovid in Ossining.")

-- Before buying a house in Ossining, Cheever and his family rented the former home of Richard Yates, who wrote the novel Revolutionary Road, another influence on Mad Men and Weiner.

In his 2009 biography, Cheever: A Life, Blake Bailey writes that "Cheever took pleasure in being a familiar face in his adopted hometown, the virtues of which he extolled with impressive zeal. When Cheever was profiled by People in 1979, the magazine described Ossining as a 'gritty enclave, dominated by Sing Sing penitentiary.'"

Bailey adds that Cheever, "indignant, rushed to disavow the slur in the local Citizen Register: 'Paradise on earth,' he said, 'with its fine views of the Hudson, its unpretentious people, its good restaurants, its nearness to New York."

Sunday, the Ossining Public Library will host a birthday celebration in the John Cheever Reading Room.

View the original article here