‘The Sorrows Of Gin’ by John Cheever

The Sorrows Of Gin by John Cheever, 1953

The magic trick:

Putting a standard Cheever story through the eyes of a child

The trick here is very simple. Cheever takes a Cheever story and gives us a child’s perspective on it. Nothing fancy. Of course it really only works if you can generate what we call a “Cheever story.” He, of course, is the master of mid-century middle class ennui. The entitlement, the hypocrisy, the selfishness. All of it is here, and it all takes on a unique sharpness when seen from naive, fourth-grade eyes.

And that’s quite a trick on Cheever’s part.

The selection:

It was Sunday afternoon, and from her bedroom Amy could hear the Beardens coming in, followed a little while later by the Farquarsons and the Parminters. She went on reading Black Beauty until she felt in her bones that they might be eating something good. Then she closed her book and went down the stairs. The living-room door was shut, but through it she could hear the noise of loud talk and laughter. They must have been gossiping or worse, because they all stopped talking when she entered the room.

“Hi, Amy,” Mr. Farquarson said.

“Mr. Farquarson spoke to you, Amy,” her father said.

“Hello, Mr. Farquarson,” she said.

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