Adam O'Fallon Price at The Millions:
John Cheever may be the most misunderstood and miscategorized important American author of the 20th century. On three separate recent occasions, and many more times over recent years, I have read articles/interviews that group him stylistically withRaymond Carver. This is mystifying: one would be hard-pressed to think of a body of work more antithetical to Carver’s spare, working-class realism than Cheever’s elegant, upper-class fabulism, where nymphs come to life and families vacation in Italian seaside villages. I can only guess this very bad comparison stems from people not actually having read Cheever, while knowing that 1) he and Carver were drinking buddies at Iowa, and 2) both of their names begin with C and end with VER.
He is often also (mis)paired with Richard Yates, a more understandable comparison. Both men served in the Second World War and chronicled the roiling fault lines beneath the tranquility of New York’s far suburbs. Both men were impeccable stylists, although Yates tended toward a rhetorical stylishness powered by limpid prose, while Cheever was, like John Updike, an extravagant sensualist, both in subject matter and descriptive tendency. Both men enjoyed their greatest success with novels, while exerting their greatest artistic mastery in the short story form.