Books: Grace Notes

THE LETTERS OF JOHN CHEEVER

Edited by Benjamin Cheever

Simon & Schuster; 397 pages; $19.95

Throughout most of his career, John Cheever labored amid the general impression that he was, at best, a minor writer. After all, his specialty was short stories. Never mind that they were clear, sparkling and frequently unforgettable; most of them appeared in The New Yorker and could be dismissed by the grim custodians of literary reputations as well-bred entertainments for the well-to-do. Doubts about his importance dwindled only toward the end of his life. His fourth novel, Falconer (1977), won extensive critical and popular acclaim, and...

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