41 Endings: Cheever [with comment (mixed)]

I gave this to Ralphie and went home. [Only I didn’t say “Fudge”]

Then he went away, and, although the race was beginning, she saw instead the white snow and the wolves of Nascosta, the pack coming up the Via Cavour and crossing the piazza as if they were bent on some errand of that darkness that she knew to lie at the heart of life, and, remembering the cold on her skin and the whiteness of the snow and the stealth of the wolves, she wondered why the good God had opened up so many choices and made life so strange and diverse. [Pretty damn 19th century and pretty damn good. The next ‘experimental writer’ will actually write like Thomas Hardy]

She was always on the move, dreaming of bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches. [That’s very Brautigan, sir]

“I’m walking the dog,” I said cheerfully. There was no dog in sight, but they didn’t look. “Here, Toby! Here, Toby! Here, Toby! Good dog!” I called and off I went, whistling merrily in the dark. [I use this same tired move, only I say I’m “returning the movies.” A friend of mine “goes for donuts” and returns tired, with gin on her breath]

“Oh, we thought, signore,” he said, ‘that you were merely a poet.” [Like Yeats?]

The touchstone of their euphoria remained potent, and while Larry gave up the fire truck he could still be seen at the communion rail, the fifty-yard line, the 8:03, and the Chamber Music Club, and through the prudence and shrewdness of Helen’s broker they got richer and richer and lived happily, happily, happily, happily. [I got nothing. Excellent fucking ending line. That’s why you are you and I am me. Well done]

Then he put his head back on the pillow and died—indeed, these were his dying words, and the dying words, it seemed to me, of generations of storytellers, for how could this snowy and trumped-up pass, with its trio of travelers, hope to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream? [Conrad? I hope a PhD is studying how long these ending sentences—dissertation, dis?]

Nothing less will get us past the armed sentry and over the mountainous border. [A bit Hemingway, but it’s cool, we all do that]

“It will be all right,” he kept saying, “it will be all right, my darling, it will be all right.” [I mean that’s straight up Sun Also Rises. It’s cool. Fuck it. Seriously]

My brother is still afraid of elevators, and my mother, although she’s grown quite stiff, still goes around and around and around on the ice. [Stiff as in the old, mellow term for drunk, or just like stiff stiff?]

“Blessed are you, blessed are you,” she kept shouting across the water and I knew that she thought of a place where there are no police with swords and no greedy nobility and no dishonesty and no briberies and no delays and no fear of cold and hunger and war and if all that she imagined was not true, it was a noble idea and that was the main thing. [Ah, sort of trying for epic, but fell off]

Mightn’t Olga’s going only mean that she was making room for someone else? [I like the idea of Olga]

I wrote all these on a piece of paper and when we said goodbye I dropped the paper into a wastebasket. [And then suddenly we’re in a Molly Ringwald flick, or like at work on Tuesday. Hey, you bent decades]

“Goodbye, Daddy,” I said, and I went down the stairs and got my train, and that was the last time I saw my father. [Cheever wrote flash fiction, BTW. Flash has always been here, BTW. But I digress]

The words seem to have the colors of the earth, and as I recite them I feel my hopelessness mount until I am contented and at peace with the night. (No snark from me. Solid)

On the last day I swam in the Nile—overhand—and they drove me to the airport, where I kissed Geneva—and the Cabots—goodbye. [The swim-in-the-Nile thing a bit elitist; sort of increases psychic distance, for the reader I mean. Do we need the exact stroke? Maybe. And ending line here is, by definition, out of context. So what is its value, out of context? That’s a very reductive question. Are you joking? Maybe you are on the wrong blog]

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. [You’re just asking for a feminist reading, aren’t you, Cheever? And you’re not going to like it]

There was pandemonium, and presently the sirens of the police car that took him away. [That presently is sort of like rocking a brass walking cane and a deerstalker to a reading (without irony)]

In the middle of the night, the porch door flies open, but my first, my gentle wife is not there to ask, “Why have they come back? What have they lost?” [I like it. A lot off the page for me to consider. I‘ll buy you a beer. Maybe]

I moved that night from the villa to the Hotel National, and left Montraldo in the morning. [Very New Yorker. Ha, ha]

Then I thanked my host and walked down the broad lawn, back to the meadow and the sparkling brook, where I lay on the grass and fell into a sweet sleep. [Pulled a Houdini drunk at a party. It happens. There’s something lovely and exciting about broad lawn. I usually just fall into that creek]

Water, water. [Maslow]

Mathilda went from the hospital to then a restaurant and then to a movie, and it was the cleaning woman who told her, when she got home, that he had passed away. [And hipster Eggers says, In her kitchen, she saw many things she would like to eat. On the counter, there was a bunch of new bananas, yellow as a Van Gogh chair, and two apples, pristine. The cabinet was open and she saw a box of crackers, a new box of cereal, a tube of curved chips. She felt overwhelmed, seeing all of the food there, that it was all hers. And there was more in the refrigerator! There were juices, half a melon, a dozen bagels, salmon, a steak, yogurt in a dozen colors. It would take her a week to eat all of this food. She does not deserve this, she thought. It really isn’t fair, she thought. You’re correct, God said, and then struck dead 65,000 Malaysians.]

He threw the cake, which was burned to a cinder, into the garbage, and they turned out the lights and climbed the stairs, more mystified by life than ever, and more interested than ever in good appearance. [The narcissistic burn and throw cakes often because they don’t learn because they are narcissistic so burn and throw cakes often because they don’t learn because they are narcissistic so burn and throw cakes often because they don’t learn because they are narcissistic so…]

He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in at the windows, saw that the place was empty. [Great quest story. If you teach a quest class like me, use this story (I have many others, if you ever want to teach a quest class—hit me up). I generally like people who use their shoulder, BTW]

His return to Monte Carbone was triumphant and in the morning he began a long poem on the inalienable dignity of light and air that, while it would not get him the Nobel Prize, would grace the last months of his life. [Poet hang-up, I am sensing. Am I missing some biographical data? Who the fuck reads a text through biographical data? Weak, me]

“An early-morning railroad disaster in Tokyo,” the loudspeaker said, “killed twenty-nine people. A fire in a Catholic hospital near Buffalo for the care of blind children was extinguished early this morning by nuns. The temperature is forty-seven. The humidity is eighty-nine.” [Sir. Hipster Eggs already said, In her kitchen, she saw many things she would like to eat. On the counter, there was a bunch of new bananas, yellow as a Van Gogh chair, and two apples, pristine. The cabinet was open and she saw a box of crackers, a new box of cereal, a tube of curved chips. She felt overwhelmed, seeing all of the food there, that it was all hers. And there was more in the refrigerator! There were juices, half a melon, a dozen bagels, salmon, a steak, yogurt in a dozen colors. It would take her a week to eat all of this food. She does not deserve this, she thought. It really isn’t fair, she thought. You’re correct, God said, and then struck dead 65,000 Malaysians.]

Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains. [Bad. Ass. Period]

They give more rubles that I can spend for the trip, and I have to turn them in at the border. [Blar]

The wind flung the snow into my face and so, singing and jingling the car keys, I walked to the train.[I like the surge of facing the snow. The American stoicism unearthed. Cheever seems to be able to transplant older values into people who don’t deserve those values, have not earned them, so end up vomiting those values out, in disgust and collapse]

And so off to the sea. [Dude, you should try more of this]

He is her husband, she is his wife, the mother of his children, and a woman he has worshiped passionately for nearly thirty years. [That’s like palladium]

But it was a comfortable house and a brilliant day, and in the end they would take Victor for what he appeared to be, and he appeared to be very happy.” [The essence of Cheever, no? The gold tooth he touched with his tongue every time]

Gee-Gee could walk by the time Peaches and the children got back, and he took up that disorderly life for which he seemed so much better equipped that his neighbor, but they had to move at the end of the year, and, like the Folkestones, vanished from the hill town.[(Gee-Gee is a badass name, period. I also admire disorderly lives]

Leaving the table he had to give me another two inches, so that walking across the piazza I could feel the night wind and hear the fountains, and we’ve lived happily together ever since. [The two inches thing is so odd I glow it]

“Please let me alone!” she cried. “Please let me alone for a little while!” [Been there]

I go up to the surface, shake the water out of my hair, and think I am worlds away from home. [Damn, you swam a lot (Listening, Ph.D. student?—I just gave you two dissertations)]

He got to his feet and picked up his hat from the ground where it had fallen and walked home. (I’m not a big fan of the word, walk)

She shot him dead. [Finally]

Then he went up to bed singing, “Marito in citta, la moglie ce ne va, o povero marito!” [I’m not Googling tonight, sorry]