John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer. He is sometimes called "the Chekhov of the suburbs". His fiction is mostly set in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Westchester suburbs, old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was born, and Italy, especially Rome. He is "now recognized as one of the most important short fiction writers of the 20th century." While Cheever is perhaps best remembered for his short stories (including "The Enormous Radio", "Goodbye, My Brother", "The Five-Forty-Eight", "The Country Husband", and "The Swimmer"), he also wrote four novels, comprising The Wapshot Chronicle (National Book Award, 1958),The Wapshot Scandal (William Dean Howells Medal, 1965), Bullet Park (1969), Falconer (1977) and a novella Oh What a Paradise It Seems (1982).
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We praise Him, we bless Him, we adore Him, we glorify Him, and we wonder who is that baritone across the aisle and that pretty woman on our right who smells of apple blossoms. . . . We amend our prayers for the spiritual life with the hope that it will not be too spiritual.
If my hands tremble with desire, they tremble likewise when I reach for the chalice on Sunday, and if lust makes me run and caper, it is no stronger a force than that which brings me to my knees to say thanksgivings and litanies. What can this capricious skin be but a blessing?
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
And this is the simple truth — that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.