A Message from John Cheever (short)

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Posted by Ken Hubner ( on June 26, 2000 at 09:01:52:

I've never done this sort of thing before, I can't believe I'm doing it now, and I swear I'll never do it again, but I was reading a short story by John Cheever (1912-1982) yesterday, "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill," and was stopped cold by the following passage.

"I wish I could say that a kindly lion had set me straight, or an innocent child, or the strains of distant music from some church, but it was no more than the rain on my head -- the smell of it flying up my nose -- that showed me the extent of my freedom . . . There were ways out of my trouble if I cared to make use of them. I was not trapped. I was here on earth because I chose to be."

If you've read Cheever's journals and letters, you know he had a very dark side to him, fought his own demons all his life, and nearly ruined the lives of his family, and others, along the way. He was certainly no Pollyanna! But so often in his writing, there are passages similar to the above, and they always give me pause -- long, true, thoughtful pause.
Actually, I can't stand this general sort of post, and many of this genre make me slightly sick to my stomach without offering any nourishment in return, but I was struck by this passage and thought I would, just this once, send it on "out there.
Forgive me. It won't happen again.

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