Sunday, August 24, 2008

First Sentence - John Cheever

I was going through John Cheever's short story collection this evening, and I came across this one from O Youth and Beauty:

At the tag end of nearly every long, large Saturday-night party in the suburb of Shady Hill, when almost everybody who was going to play golf or tennis in the morning had gone home hours ago and the ten or twelve people remaining seemed powerless to bring the evening to an end although the gin and whiskey were running low, and here and there a woman who was sitting out her husband would have begun to drink milk; when everybody had lost track of time, and the baby-sitters who were waiting at home for these diehards would have long since stretched out on the sofa and fallen into a deep sleep, to dream about cooking-contest prizes, ocean voyages, and romance; when the bellicose drunk, the crapshooter, the pianist, and the woman faced with the expiration of her hopes had all expressed themselves; when every proposal--to go to the Farquarsons' for breakfast, to go swimming, to go and wake up the Townsends, to go here and go there--died as soon as it was made, then Trace Bearden would begin to chide Cash Bentley about his age and thinning hair.

Whew! Cheever. I wish I'd had you at my elbow in college creative writing classes when that snotty girl with the braces accused me of writing run-on sentences. This story is such a great example of Cheever throwing aside all control. What fun.

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