Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trad Authors: Cheever and Updike

I’ve read each of them. They both concern me but in different ways. Updike because I’m not smart enough to read and “get” him like I know others do. I’m taken by what one friend calls Updike’s ability to “notice and remember” but I’m humbled by the fact that it takes me twenty minutes to read properly one Updike page. 
When it comes to non-fiction/autobiographical posits of Updike I think everyone should read his chapter on living all of his adult life with psoriasis. Cheever is a tough one for me too-mostly because my father was a worse drunk than him. And if you’ve read any biographical information on Cheever you know that he was slugging gin by the gulp before noon. Both were loyal to The New Yorker. Loyal beyond good judgement.
One possessed Ivy credentials and humbly leveraged such as a reviewer and critic. The other constantly campaigned compensatory affectations to accommodate his lack of any finished degree. They were competitive while holding each other in high esteem. Both stand as evidence that while formal education is a nice to have; artists are imbued with gifts from God.
If you haven’t watched the Dick Cavett interview with Cheever and Updike, do yourself the favor. Where the hell are the Dick Cavetts of the world now?
Cheever wore this tie on the Dick Cavett show. His family buried him in it as well. The OCBD is poly-cotton blend. I'm sure Cheever was too tight to send shirts out to the laundry.
Updike in the L.L. Bean perennial favorite Camp Moc. My money says that his were made in the USA though. Remember?
Cheever with daughter Susan. Big a_s o-ring trad belt. The Seventies...Cheever's belt scale here personifies why this was the ugliest sartorial decade.
Cheever with a dog. Probably a J. Press Shaggy Dog crew neck sweater. On the way to Gotham? Perhaps to collect a check from the New Yorker office? Where by the way, they paid him about 30% of what he could have realized in compensation from other publications. Loyalty beyond good judgement.
Updike in trad plaid and ... what is that tennis shirt brand? Was it called Boast? If so, the dichotomy is manifest given the man upon whom the shirt sits.
Crew necks and cigs...both men were known for them. 
I don't think there's one bit of affectation here. Quintessential Updike.
Cheever on the way to Gotham? A rendezvous with Hope Lange? Sadly, Cheever was such a drunk during the Hope Lange phase that one doubts his ability to really manifest physically too much consummate passion. He was prouder of the conquest than she.
Updike...Trad Yankee to the end.

Onward. And better for it-having struggled with these men and their words. 

ADG

18 comments:

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Nice photo essay. Fan of Cheever, particularly his short stories.

ADG said...

TradMan...Why are you up so early? Yes-Cheever was a short story man. Only.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

I got up for my daily morning swim, in the dark. Early morning, I have discovered, is the only time of day a bathing suit is not mandatory.

James said...

Just when I was expecting GTH,fuzzy dice, or adorable daughter you come up with this! You are a very interesting person and your post are always so enjoyable. I might have to re-read me some Cheever and Updike. Great photos, thank you.

LPC said...

So what I wonder is, what does Richard Ford wear? Or, for that matter, Chang-rae Lee, who teaches at Princeton and writes about some of the same landscape?

Tickled Pink And Green said...

Love Cheever. Have you read the books by his daughter Susan? Love those too. My hubby went to same school Cheever was kicked out of (Thayer)...

Anonymous said...

Please allow me to suggest the recent excellent biography "Cheever: a life" written by Blake Bailey. I met the author in Washington, D. C. last year.

~Hilton

Anonymous English Female said...

Still kicking myself for giving my late husband's set of Updike first editions (he would go to the rare signings at Gotham Book Mart)to my sister-in-law; who, not in the habit of reading anything more mentally demanding than In Style magazine, keps them in a box in her attic..

Anonymous said...

Kind of partial to John O'Hara & John P. Marquand.
Marquand having a bit lighter touch than O'Hara.

Richard M said...

myself, I like Cheever, dislike Updike.I don't consider Updike "Trad". More like early Mod.

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Love the plaid trousers and white polo. *whispering* I've not read Cheever OR Updike yet. must. must. must. will. will. will.

Anonymous English Female: devise a way of getting those first editions back. Resort to B & E if you must.

Gail, in northern California said...

Oh ADG....I take back everything. You have just redeemed yourself. This post is absolutely wonderful in itself but, it's as though you are gearing up (or preparing yourself) for something incredible. I never know what to expect from you and that's wonderful too.

ADG said...

James….worry not. I’ll be back to my old self in no time.

LPC...I don’t know. But I’ll find out.

Tickled Pink And Green…I did read his daughter’s book-twice.

Hilton-Anonymous...I did read the Cheever biography by Bailey. I had to take a break half way through it. I am Fred Cheever.

AnonEngFem...Go get ‘em back.

Anonymous...Two Johns-Now four.

Richard M...Maybe Trad in his earliest days.

~Tessa~Scoffs...Read a short story or two of Cheever’s and then go/or not-from there.

GailNorCal...The Bible says that God gave woman the “gift of discernment”. I believe it. I believe that women have greater intuition than men. And yes, you are a mind reader. Fear not though, there will be many more sophomoric posits before the scud is launched.

heavy tweed jacket said...

Great post. Thanks for the link to the wonderful Cavett interview. On church - "a level of introspection that is awarded at no other time in the week." Thoughtful reply. Haven't read either of them in some time, but this makes me want to revisit the literature of my youth.

ADG said...

HeavyTweed...yes. Cheever rarely missed church. His daughter speaks to this habit in her biography. Not only introspection-I think it was the only place/moment when/where he found any peace.

Summer is a Verb said...

Cheever shmeever I'm off to order me some Boasts! had these on my resurrection radar last year than got sidetracked. The sisal verticals will have to go on hold...XXOO

TRAWETS NILTGEOV said...

Yeah, that's a BOAST golf-shirt, cannabis leaf and all. I once received in-house suspension for donning said shirt. "But... I thought it was a grape leaf..."

Cheever/Updike: The twins of "Country Club Ennui."

ADG said...

Allie...yeah but they are 100% polyester now...damn.

TRAWLETSman...and suspended you should have been. "Country Club ennui"...freakin' brilliant.

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