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Quotes of the day: John Cheever
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Published Wednesday, June 17, 2015 @ 1:12 PM EDT
Jun 17 2015


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John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 - June 18, 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs". His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome. He is "now recognized as one of the most important short fiction writers of the 20th century." While Cheever is perhaps best remembered for his short stories (including "The Enormous Radio", "Goodbye, My Brother", "The Five- Forty-Eight", "The Country Husband", and "The Swimmer"), he also wrote four novels, comprising The Wapshot Chronicle (National Book Award, 1958), The Wapshot Scandal (William Dean Howells Medal, 1965), Bullet Park (1969), Falconer (1977) and a novella, Oh What a Paradise It Seems (1982). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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A lonely man is a lonesome thing, a stone, a bone, a stick, a receptacle for Gilbey's gin, a stooped figure sitting at the edge of a hotel bed, heaving copious sighs like the autumn wind.

Admire the world. Relish the love of a gentle woman. Trust in the lord.

Art is the triumph over chaos.

Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house.

For lovers, touch is metamorphosis. All the parts of their bodies seem to change, and they seem to become something different and better.

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of battle. It has the power to give grief or universality that lends it a youthful beauty.

Homesickness is nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time.

I do not understand the capricious lewdness of the sleeping mind.

I've been homesick for countries I've never been, and longed to be where I couldn't be.

People look for morals in fiction because there has always been a confusion between fiction and philosophy.

People named John and Mary never divorce. For better or for worse, in madness and in saneness, they seem bound together for eternity by their rudimentary nomenclature. They may loathe and despise one another, quarrel, weep, and commit mayhem, but they are not free to divorce. Tom, Dick, and Harry can go to Reno on a whim, but nothing short of death can separate John and Mary.

The deep joy we take in the company of people with whom we have just recently fallen in love is undisguisable.

The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.

The organizations of men, like men themselves, seem subject to deafness, nearsightedness, lameness, and involuntary cruelty. We seem tragically unable to help one another, to understand one another.

The secret of keeping young is to read children's books. You read the books they write for little children and you'll keep young. You read novels, philosophy, stuff like that and it makes you feel old.

The task of an American writer is not to describe the misgivings of a woman taken in adultery as she looks out of a window at the rain but to describe four hundred people under the lights reaching for a foul ball. This is ceremony.

There is a terrible sameness to the euphoria of alcohol and the euphoria of metaphor.

We praise Him, we bless Him, we adore Him, we glorify Him, and we wonder who is that baritone across the aisle and that pretty woman on our right who smells of apple blossoms. Our bowels stir and our cod itches and we amend our prayers for the spiritual life with the hope that it will not be too spiritual.

When I remember my family, I always remember their backs. They were always indignantly leaving places. That's the way I remember them, heading for an exit.

When the beginnings of self-destruction enter the heart it seems no bigger than a grain of sand.

Wisdom we know is the knowledge of good and evil, not the strength to choose between the two.

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(June 18 is also the birthday of Carolyn Wells.)


Categories: John Cheever, Quotes of the day


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