John Cheever

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John Cheever/photo: Stathis Orphanos

John Cheever/photo: Stathis Orphanos

This is a bit off topic, but at Time I write about the occasional book unrelated to art or architecture and this is one I raised my hand to do. I’m a major lifelong fan of Cheever’s, so I wanted to do whatever I could to get his name back into the conversation.

At the time of his death in 1982 Cheever was so famous that it seemed impossible that he would ever be anything else. That combination in his work of the troubled and the transcendant, it was enormously powerful. But one thing Blake Bailey tells us in his very-readable-despite-being-over-700-pages new biography is that Cheever has gone into relative eclipse. Even the wonderful Collected Stories, which were once more common than the Gideon Bible, apparently sell only a few thousands copies a year now. If you don’t have your copy, get one.