Short Fiction

The Stories of John Cheever [great short stories 02]

John Cheever (1912 – 1982) wrote four novels – and 61 tense, bitter and sardonic short stories about life in the suburbs and the American dream of the Space Age: cocktail parties, swimming pools, spotless kitchens and the tragic, tender, middle-class atomic family.

A predecessor to ‚The Ice Storm‘ and ‚Desperate Housewifes‘, Cheever’s stories describe the domestic and sexual dramas of the 1950ies and 1960ies:

If you like ‚Mad Men‘ and/or easy, accessible stories about domestic struggles and hidden traumas, Cheever provides you with dozens of quick, witty variations of these familiar themes.

In 1979, his collection ‚The Stories of John Cheever‘ won the Pulitzer Price.

Out of 61 stories written between 1947 and the mid-1970ies, I can recommend the following:

  • Torch Song
  • The Cure
  • The Worm in the Apple
  • The Trouble of Marcie Flint
  • The Country Husband
  • Clementina
  • The Seaside Houses
  • The Ocean

…and, my three favourites:

Cheever repeats himself a lot. Stories from the same collection that seemed tired and poorly thought-out:

  • The Sorrows of Gin
  • O Youth and Beauty!
  • The Housebreaker of Shady Hill
  • Brimmer
  • The Death of Justina
  • A Vision of the World
  • Reunion
  • Metamorphoses
  • Montraldo
  • The World of Apples

Get the paperback on or

Or get a new – but incomplete – German translation from 2009.

All in all: 4 of 5 stars. Straightforward, intelligent and entertaining short stories… but often repetitive.

Nothing you need to read front-to-cover. But excellent summer reading, nonetheless!

John Updike: The early Stories [great short stories 01]

John Updike (1932 – 2009) wrote dark, complex and delicate short stories about everyday life in small towns and the everyday sorrows of husbands and wifes. His ‚Rabbit‘ series of novels has gotten better and better (try ‚Rabbit at Rest‘, 1990)…

…and 103 of his short stories are collected in a beautiful collection called simply ‚The Early Stories: 1953 – 1975‘:

I read the book last year and marked my favourites.

Especially the earliest stories are surprisingly fresh and atmospheric.

Give them a try!

  • Friends from Philadelphia
  • A Sense of Shelter (Google Doc)
  • The Lucid Eye in Silver Town
  • Ace in the Hole
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth
  • Home
  • Dear Alexandros

Later in the book, I can recommend the following:

  • A Gift from the City
  • The Orphaned Swimming Pool
  • My Lover has Dirty Fingernails
  • The Taste of Metal
  • Transaction
  • The Man Who Loved Extinct Mammals

Twelve bad and uninspired stories from the same collection:

  • At a Bar in Charlotte Amalie
  • Incest
  • The Crow in the Woods
  • Wife-Wooing
  • Leaves
  • The Stare
  • Museums and Women
  • The Morning
  • Lifeguard
  • Commercial
  • The Dark
  • Augustine’s Concubine

All in all: A good quota. Lots of solid – and some outstanding – classic US short stories.

4 of 5 stars. Great summer reading. Recommended! Link Link