A massive biography explores questions about Carver's authorship
A Writer's Life
by Carol Sklenicka
$35.00 List Price
Published in 1978, The Stories of John Cheever was a luminous treasure at the end of gravity's rainbow. In that retrospective collection, Cheever's fiction faced backward against the ranks of Pynchon, Barth, Gaddis, and Gass to sum up a rapidly vanishing era of smart manners and discreet affluence, but the hulking volume also heralded a new moment for the American short story. (The book sold some half a million copies, a record for short fiction.) Even if the New Yorker formula Cheever had perfected had become a bit tweedy, his sturdy old realism had life in it yet.
But the second coming of American realism struck out past the well-manicured lawns of tony Westchester and went down market, into Appalachia, the deep South, out West, and beyond. The movement, such as it was, earned the sobriquets "dirty realism" and
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