John Cheever Wore Size-Six Weejuns

Faithful reader “Old School” alerted us to this piece in the New York Review of Books by a former disciple of the great author. It discloses Cheever’s shoe size:

Blue-and-white-striped Brooks Brothers shirt, unpressed khakis. John Cheever wore size-six Weejuns. (You know? I’ve always wanted to write that! For its interior rhymes, for its being factual, for its snappy attempt at sounding both as smart and clear as, well, a John Cheever sentence. So, yeah, “John Cheever wore size-six Weejuns.”)

… as well as a few other things. It’s a superb essay, and that’s no small feet. 

8 Comments on "John Cheever Wore Size-Six Weejuns"

  1. There’s an almost elusive, (dare I say) pleasant sadness about John Cheever.

  2. Richard Meyer | October 20, 2012 at 4:35 am |

    Fine piece about a fine writer.

  3. Excellent. Thanks for drawing our attention to it. Cheever was a writer I was immediately drawn to after reading “The Swimmer” in junior college around 1982. I knew nothing of his background or his stature, only that something magical was going on in that story, a mixture of bracing clarity and aching melancholy that made me want to read more. Within a few days I purchased his Pulitzer-winning short story collection and began to realize far from being an anomaly, the story I read for class was simply one of scores of gems penned–or typed–by Cheever and that I had stumbled across one of the most sublime talents in American letters. I recently purchased another copy of his collection, the one I picked up in my early college days having lost its covers and grown dog-eared from use. Cheers on your hundredth birthday, John! I think I’ll read a story or two this evening to celebrate.

  4. Cheever would rip this (American) culture to shreds. Now more than ever we need his piercing sense of the charlatan, the ridiculous, the ironic.

    He, brilliant at using mundane minutiae to make larger (political and cultural and even spiritual) statements, would begin with something as acknowledged-and-accepted as the price of a J. Press Shaggy Dog sweater and use it as a springboard for a sermon-as-short story.

    He did the seemingly impossible: honored the best of a culture (the beauty and charm of post War American upper middle class) while reminding us of the underlying, often hidden tragedies: The shallowness, the greed, the close mindedness, the spiritual bankruptcy; the hollowness underneath-and-behind the Brooks tweeds, summer homes at the shore, mid-winter ski trips, and prep school degrees.

    The booze, the anxieties, the eating disorders, the sleeping pills, the jealousy-and-envy — enabled and amplified by wealth. He was a genius in the mold of Fitzgerald.

  5. * $250 for a simple crewneck made of humble Shetland yarns? As absurd as swimming one’s way home by way of neighbors’ backyard pools. The suburban Iliad.

  6. Vern Trotter | January 3, 2021 at 4:55 pm |

    Cheever was the best short story writer I have ever read. A prep school drop out, (Thayer Academy) he used the true life sadness and realism he heard in his Alcoholic Anonymous meetings to document life in suburbia, the daily commute into Manhattan and despite his own self-loathing, won awards he never dreamed possible. A “paterfamilias in Brooks Brothers clothes” he was called by Time Magazine as he graced their cover. He was “A proud Yankee who flaunted his lineage while deploring the provincialism of his Quincy, Massachusetts family.” “One of the foremost chroniclers of postwar America.”

  7. I’ll always remember a college English seminar on modern short fiction, and after we had discussed a piece by John Updike, the 70+ year old professor (who retired at the end of the year) said, “There was another author, similar to Updike but a much, much better writer, died not too long ago, oh, what was his name…” Someone raised her hand and said, “Orson Welles?” Silence for an uncomfortable moment. “No, not Orson Welles.” I figured I’d better jump in. “John Cheever?” “Yes, John Cheever!”

  8. Vern Trotter | January 4, 2021 at 2:36 pm |

    “All literary men are Red Sox fans— to be a Yankee fan in a literate society is to endanger your life.”
    — John Cheever

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