Cheever’s dark work about dissatisfied suburbanites epitomized New Yorker-style short fiction of the 60s and 70s, and his daughter wrote a biography in the late 90s that discussed Cheever’s “bisexuality” and the triumph of sexual freedom he allowed himself very late in life. (He died in 1985.)
The new book, Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey, delves a little deeper into Cheever’s journals and uses interviews from more of the players involved, including a young man Cheever had an exploitative affair with, and also suggesting that Cheever’s sexual relationship with his brother, which Bailey doesn’t want to judge.
They were poor, their father was an alcoholic, their mother was preoccupied by her gift shop, and Fred was a mentor and parent figure. Cheever strongly suggests their relationship was carnal. But what might have occurred while [Cheever and his brother] were living together, in the privacy of their shower or bed, doesn’t bother me.
Read more about Cheever’s sad, mid-century gay life in The Advocate‘s interview with Bailey.
Cheever’s Demons: A Conversation With Blake Bailey (The Advocate)
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