Wednesday, January 18, 2012

John Cheever: "The Swimmer"

Did you grow up in the suburbs?  "The Swimmer" is the story that crystallizes John Cheever in people's minds as the paragon of suburban writers.  Dive in and through and across; and while you're immersed in the story, take time to notice how he sets up a pattern, an expectation, and how he keeps his sentences, creating chaos, so carefully in order.

To fully enjoy "The Swimmer," I suggest you read (or reread) "Goodbye, My Brother," on which students blogged here. The photo here expresses a Cheever who seems to be in an old family vacation spot.  In Richard Russo's introduction to Cheever in 3x33 he points out that Neddy Merrill "might be the unnamed narrator of 'Goodbye, My Brother,' a decade or two later."  Russo points out that illusion and falsehood are what propel the narrator forward in his journey of shallow pools.