Writer Wednesday: John Cheever

CheeverThe last time I saw my father was in Grand Central Station. I was going from my grandmother’s in the Adirondacks to a cottage on the Cape that my mother had rented, and I wrote my father that I would be in New York between trains for an hour and a half, and asked if we could have lunch together. His secretary wrote to say that he would meet me at the information booth at noon, and at twelve o’clock sharp I saw him coming through the crowd. He was a stranger to me—my mother divorced him three years ago and I hadn’t been with him since—but as soon as I saw him I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom.

– from “Reunion”, written by John Cheever

I’m currently reading Cheever’s collection of short stories, which has been even better than I possibly imagined. Cheever was one of those names that was always dropped between writers I’ve always admired, but for whatever reason, I never got around to reading.

It wasn’t until I listened to this New Yorker podcast that I finally heard “Reunion”, and from that moment on, I knew I was going to appreciate Cheever’s work. I haven’t been that taken by a short story since someone read Donald Barthelme’s “The School” to me.

At just over 1100 words, you won’t find a story that packs in as much sadness and heartache as this. And the “as soon as I saw him I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom” line is so damn perfect, I want to buy Cheever a drink.


About Christian A. Dumais

Christian A. Dumais is an American writer, humorist and public speaker living in Wrocław, Poland. He has published fiction, journalism, and academic articles in several magazines and journals such as GUD, Shock Totem and Ha!Art. His first collection of short stories, Empty Rooms Lonely Countries, was published in 2009. He also created, edited, and contributed to Cover Stories, a euphictional anthology of 100 stories inspired by songs, which was published in 2010. His most recent book is SMASHED: The Life and Tweets of Drunk Hulk.

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