John Cheever

Not yet nursing homes

“Another historical peculiarity of the place was the fact that its  {New England town's} large mansions, those relics of another time, had not been reconstructed to serve as nursing homes for that vast population of comatose and the dying who were kept alive, unconscionably, through trailblazing medical invention.” 

John Cheever, from Oh What a Paradise It Seems

While Cheever lived much of his life in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y., just to the north of it, he remained almost obsessed by where he had grown up on Greater Boston's South Shore.

Still, rejoice

It was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.

-- John Cheever

Of course, plenty went wrong in the life of the great short-story writer and novelist Cheever, who grew up on Boston's South Shore. But he almost always found reasons for hope and redemption. The last line of his novel Falconer is "Rejoice''.

Lovely, dark and deep

birches "Birches,'' by RUSSELL DUPONT, in his show "A Sense of Place: Photographs by Russell duPont,'' at the James Library and Center for the Arts, Norwell, Mass., Sept. 5-Sept. 30.

Norwell is  a Boston suburb, a community with a strong sense of being on a river (the  marshy North River) and the burial site of John Cheever, who, although he spent most of his life in New York City and Westchester County, wrote hauntingly about the South Shore towns where he grew up and whose physical  beauty he cited.

 

I'd guess that many people readers remember this closing of Robert Frost poem "Birches'':

 

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
The photo above is beautiful  but also a bit ominous, as are many Frost poems.
Read his poem "Design''.

 

 

 

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Yankee magazine: More than B&B ads

  The current issue of Yankee magazine is pretty damn good. particularly "The Throwbacks,'' about James and Sara Ackermann, a young couple working (about 18 hours a day) a Vermont dairy and maple-syrup farm. Yankee still manages in most issues to combine touristy, ad--revenue-gathering stuff  and how-to material with rigorous reportage and very thoughtful ruminations about the region.

The article  about the Ackermanns is about  an old-fashioned work ethic  (involving mind and body) squared, in a beautiful if demanding countryside.

The issue also has a silly but entertaining quote from the writer  John Cheever, who grew up on the South Shore of Boston but spent most of his life in the New York City area:

"All literary men are Red Sox fans -- to be a Yankee fan in a literate society is to endanger your life.''