(1912-1982) US writer who occasionally used fantasy elements. In his best-known fantasy, "The Enormous Radio" (1947), a radio begins magically broadcasting the goings-on behind doors in an apartment building. Intrusions of the fantastic into the everyday world are usually rendered more ambiguously, so that it is impossible, for example, to tell whether or not the marriage that falls apart in "The Seaside Houses" (1961) does so as the result of a psychic residue of despair, or how much the increasingly hostile environment encountered by the title character of "The Swimmer" (1964) represents the externalization of his own psychological turmoil. Fantasy is often bound up with ideals of femininity and female sexuality: the female Companion conjured by the protagonist of "The Chimera" (1961) is a projection of his need for a sympathetic listener, while the title character of "The Music Teacher" (1959) is cast as a Witch who knows how to fulfil the longings of all misunderstood husbands. In "Torch Song" (1947), a woman who endures the abuse of a succession of lovers may be a Vampire feeding on their misery.
JC's novels are lighter in tone, usually portraying suburbia as a fallen Paradise built from the thwarted hopes and dreams of its denizens. Bullet Park (1969) is an Allegory of the struggle between Good and Evil set in an imaginary suburb of New York City. [SD]
other works: The Wapshot Chronicle (1958) and The Wapshot Scandal (1964); The Stories of John Cheever (coll 1978); Falconer (1977); Oh What a Paradise it Seems (1982); Thirteen Uncollected Stories by John Cheever (coll 1994) ed Dennis Franklin.