Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide
"The Stories of John Cheever" by John Cheever
• Google’s Sergey Brin emigrates to escape persecution
• Susan B. Anthony first woman honored on U.S. coin
• First National March on D.C. for Lesbian and Gay Rights
Biography written by his daughter revealed Cheever’s alcoholism, affairs, bisexuality, and guilt. The Swimmer was published in the New Yorker in 1964; Cheever left rehab in 1975 never drank again. Cheever’s “Collected Stories” was on the New York Times bestseller list for six months.
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Featured Reader Wanted!
– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.
Short Story: "The Swimmer" Alcoholic man pool-hops WASPy neighborhood
Shorten memory hook: Drunk Neddy removes swim trunks to meet rich, elderly pool owners.
Neddy takes off his swim trunks before he cuts through the hedge and enters a property that screams enormous wealth because he believes the elderly owners prefer to swim naked. The dignified patriarch consoles Neddy about misfortunes which Neddy forgets/denies.
Quest that is the backbone of the story devolves from fun to sad and is served up in fragments with contradictions and a hazy ending, a la a drinking spree.
Reading Cheever stories one at a time – ten pages or so – is delicious. Reading 61 stories in a row as a book of 704 pages is gorging an entire buffet.
Provide/Get Help. Addressing addiction requires compassionate support.
Cheever presents the class divide between the world of swanky backyards and those with access to a public pool as well as the chasm between the well off churchgoers, golfers, tennis players and Audubon members and the fallen from grace.
Bougie butlered hor d’oeuvres. Be on the lookout for wet party crashers.
“Making his way home by an uncommon route gave him the feeling that he was a pilgrim, an explorer, a man with destiny, and he knew that he would find friends all along the way...”
Must be poolside; only one person in the pool, however. Vibe should say talking about money is worse than eating your peas off a knife.
What’s the best way to interact with a person who is intoxicated? A person who clearly needs an intervention? A person who has lost their financial resources? Suffered a family calamity?
How can waitstaff and guests demonstrate respect?
What the difference between a good neighbor and a friend?
What should society do to address addiction?
Make a res before you drop by the Hudson Valley NY mansions which are now national historic sites. Or shop VRBO’s in Hudson Valley and plan a fantasy pool party.
There was enough packed into Cheever’s ten page story to create a film: 1968 "The Swimmer."
Other Cheever short story collection include “The Way Some People Live” 1943, “The Enormous Radio and Other Stories” 1953 and “The Brigadier and the Golf Widow” 1964.
“Bullet Park” which Cheever groupies know is the title of a Cheever xxxx novel set in upscale suburb featuring swimming pools and focusing on a bastard who drinks too much.