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Cheever: A Life

by Blake Bailey

John Cheever was one of the foremost chroniclers of post-war America, a peerless writer who on his death in 1982 left not only some of the best short stories of the twentieth century and a number of highly acclaimed novels, but also a private journal that runs to an astonishing four million words. Cheever's was a soul in conflict who hid his troubles - alcoholism, secret bisexuality - behind the screen of genial life in suburbia, but as John Updike came to remark: 'Only he saw in its cocktail parties and swimming pools the shimmer of dissolving dreams . . . 'Blake Bailey, writing with unprecedented access to the journal and other sources, has brought characteristic eloquence and sensitivity to his interpretation of Cheever's life and work. This is a luminous biography that reveals - behind the disguises with which he faced the world - a troubled but strangely lovable man, and a writer of timeless fiction. 'Stunningly detailed . . . Even more eloquent and resourceful than Bailey's celebrated biography of Richard Yates, A Tragic Honesty. . . Bailey's interweaving of Cheever's fiction with his experience is a tour de force' New York Times Book Review

Farther and Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson

by Blake Bailey

From the prizewinning biographer of Richard Yates and John Cheever, here is the fascinating biography of Charles Jackson, the author of The Lost Weekend--a writer whose life and work encapsulated what it meant to be an addict and a closeted gay man in mid-century America, and what one had to do with the other. Charles Jackson's novel The Lost Weekend--the story of five disastrous days in the life of alcoholic Don Birnam--was published in 1944 to triumphant success. Within five years it had sold nearly half a million copies in various editions, and was added to the prestigious Modern Library. The actor Ray Milland, who would win an Oscar for his portrayal of Birnam, was coached in the ways of drunkenness by the novel's author--a balding, impeccably groomed middle-aged man who had been sober since 1936 and had no intention of going down in history as the author of a thinly veiled autobiography about a crypto-homosexual drunk. But The Lost Weekend was all but entirely based on Jackson's own experiences, and Jackson's valiant struggles fill these pages. He and his handsome gay brother, Fred ("Boom"), grew up in the scandal-plagued village of Newark, New York, and later lived in Europe as TB patients, consorting with aristocratic café society. Jackson went on to work in radio and Hollywood, was published widely, lived in the Hotel Chelsea in New York City, and knew everyone from Judy Garland and Billy Wilder to Thomas Mann and Mary McCarthy. A doting family man with two daughters, Jackson was often industrious and sober; he even became a celebrated spokesman for Alcoholics Anonymous. Yet he ultimately found it nearly impossible to write without the stimulus of pills or alcohol and felt his devotion to his work was worth the price. Rich with incident and character, Farther & Wilder is the moving story of an artist whose commitment to bringing forbidden subjects into the popular discourse was far ahead of his time.

The Lost Weekend

by Charles Jackson Blake Bailey

The classic tale of one man's struggle with alcoholism, this revolutionary novel remains Charles Jackson's best-known book--a daring autobiographical work that paved the way for contemporary addiction literature.It is 1936, and on the East Side of Manhattan, a would-be writer named Don Birnam decides to have a drink. And then another, and then another, until he's in the midst of what becomes a five-day binge. The Lost Weekend moves with unstoppable speed, propelled by a heartbreaking but unflinching truth. It catapulted Charles Jackson to fame, and endures as an acute study of the ravages of alcoholism, as well as an unforgettable parable of the condition of the modern man.

The Sunnier Side and Other Stories

by Charles Jackson Blake Bailey

A masterful collection of short stories exposing the seamy undercurrents of small-town American life from Charles Jackson, celebrated author of The Lost Weekend.A selection of Jackson's finest tales, The Sunnier Side and Other Stories explores the trials of adolescence in America during the tumultuous years of the early twentieth century. Set in the town of Arcadia in upstate New York, the stories in this collection address the unspoken issues--homosexuality, masturbation, alcoholism, to name a few--lurking just beneath the surface of the small-town ideal.The Sunnier Side showcases Jackson at the height of his storytelling powers, reaffirming his reputation as a boundary-pushing, irreverent writer years ahead of his time.

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