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Book review. An unrepentant moralist lowers the garden

During more than a quarter-century, from the glittering of the fifties and until the gray dusk of inbromsande state of the economy and loss of confidence that followed the oil crisis, was the work of John Cheever, one of AMERICA's most esteemed authors. By a remarkable coincidence, coincided his career with the middle-class retreat from the inner city overcrowded sidewalks and suspension skyscrapers and out to the residential area lined with flowering apple tree, a posturban wave of migrants whose potential Cheever early identified. ”Suburbia Chekhov”, he used to be called; a melankoliker who studied livslögner and krusningarna on swimmingpoolens surface.

of saturation maybe on the stories about the sovstädernas discrete horrors, has the authorship been a nostalgic resurgence in recent years. The tv series ”Mad men,” abounds with references to the Cheevers characters, and when a selection of his classic short stories, now published in a new translation, it is rewarding to get reacquainted.

This is introduced, perhaps for the first time, all the motifs that have since become indispensable both on the screen and within a certain kind of tawdry literary realism: pendlandet to the office, children will be picked up and left, the rituals surrounding the garden grill, självmedicinerande housewives nibbling lavendelfärgade pill bottle. A mosaic of the stress points and vardagsneuroser; no one who saw Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio succumb while a churlish drizzle is falling on the Revolutionary Road, doubt that the lifestyle has its risks.

the reinterpretation of the Biblical fall from grace: in Cheever is a man, not banished from paradise, but trapped in it. A crowded, klaustrofobiskt paradise where all the windows facing the identical lawns. And again, they try to find an escape route, Cheevers characters. They dreamed of a certain kind of happiness and now when it materialized, it is too late to repent. At the family quarrel to be repacked often a suitcase, longer than to the entryway in time the rarely. It is a social facade to maintain, and repayments should be paid. What still makes them so gripping, these chain-smoking medelklassamerikaner who was a contemporary of John F Kennedy, is that they will not be able to understand where it all went; youth, confidence, ambition.

the Perspective is almost always male. But it is a manhood on the glide, alpha males who have already motats away from köttbenen of younger rivals and now with subdued desperation is referred to to count the white hairs and over a martini mourning of lost privileges. In the sadly farcical short story ”O youth and beauty!” listen to a avdankad sports star through the kitchen window at the hubbub of a party. He hears how a girl exclaims: ”I have full with gräsfläckar on the dress” and experience it ”as if the figures in the garden next are phantoms from a party in the past as hiding all his wishes and desires”.

the moment when something is at stake. And then the security, the comfortable routines, by a single unconscionable gesture is lost. In titelnovellen, filmed in 1968, with a rather harried Burt Lancaster in the lead role, spends a middle-aged businessman on Sunday to drink gin, at the poolside of some friends. When it comes time to break up, he gets the idea to swim all the way home, through the line of swimming pools, the entire ”man-made river that winds through the county”. Before the adventure is over he will have lost everything, his position, money, family and house; a lost Odysseus in the pathetic dripping swim shorts.

The gradual displacement, the transition from the banal mingling to the ominous drama, is characteristic of the Cheevers aesthetics. Just under the modern surface lurks the old myths. Cain and Abel clash on a desolate beach; a nyinhandlad radio broadcasting the talks that are going on in the grannhusen, a run reminiscent of the tormented souls in Dante's ”Inferno”, including a woman with a tired voice says: ”I never feel like myself”.

”The great Gatsby” than the later generations of the practitioners of dirty realism. In many passages recur, the clouds, the fleeting formations that swirls away over the rooftops, and the rear half-drawn curtains, followed by the lonely brooder. It is a prose long before the mobile phone's success, a regular walk with the dog generates the half-poetic, half-absent-minded reflection on how the leaves dance in the gutter.

at All is something with the stories as soon as Cheever abandon the interiors and allows the document brought to the outdoors. It is as if the light, especially the late somrarnas sammetslika shimmer, dampen the cynicism that sometimes discolour personporträtten and in return screws up the empathy which is sometimes missing. The collection's gem is undoubtedly ”the Day the pig fell into the well”, a familjekrönika that stretches over decades, but that only portrays the summers, the children's holidays, evenings on the porch, ”the feeling of driving the old Cadillacen barefoot across a bumpy meadow”.

be infinitely generous to their fictional characters, rich in the way that perhaps only the hardened moralists may be then the lower garden. Towards the end of the sommarkrönikan are the aged parents are left alone, children are grown up and left home, everything was as it was. The view from the veranda is still the same:

”They had experienced the boom, the crash, the depression, the concerns about the threat of war, actual war, economic boom, inflation, recession and the downturn in the economy, and were now concerns for the future are back again, but nothing of all this had changed a stone or a leaf in the view she saw from the porch.”

Read more reviews of Jens Christian Brandt, for example, on Friday, Jan Arends absurdismer.

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