On my other blog today, I answered a question from the lovely and talented rita shibr. The title of my post was (and still is): So It Was Cancer, Part 76: In Which A Reverse Cheever Is Dreamt. Rita wanted to know what I meant by "reverse Cheever."
I said that it was a play on a famous paragraph at the end of John Cheever's "Goodbye, My Brother." The story was published in The New Yorker on August 21, 1951. It's a classic. One of my favorite stories by one of my favorite authors.
I typed out the paragraph in my comment. But it occurred to me that too few people would experience it there. So...behold the greatness of John Cheever:
"Oh, what can you do with a man like that? What can you do? How can you dissuade his eye in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand; how can you teach him to respond to the inestimable greatness of the race, the harsh surface beauty of life; how can you put his finger for him on the obdurate truths before which fear and horror are powerless? The sea that morning was iridescent and dark. My wife and my sister were swimming--Diana and Helen--and I saw their uncovered heads, black and gold in the dark water. I saw them come out and I saw that they were naked, unshy, beautiful, and full of grace, and I watched the naked women walk out of the sea."
Is it the greatest, most beautiful paragraph in English literature? I invite your nominations.
Or you can just save yourself the trouble and concur.
Picture nicked from this most excellent blog.