Home Before Dark

Cheever, Susan. Home Before Dark: a Biographical Memoir of John Cheever by His Daughter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984.

With this help of her father’s diaries and journals, Susan Cheever is able to put together a personal and detailed biography of her father, famous author John Cheever. Unlike third party (clearly outsider) biographies Susan is able to insert her own recollections and feelings into the memoir. She makes no excuses for the love/hate battle she waged with her dad. As a biographer writing about a loved one it is tempting to gloss over the not so pretty aspects of one’s life but Susan tackles the tough material with grace. She does not shirk from her father’s early failures as a writer not does she make excuses for his volatile marriage and heavy drinking. What she presents is a snapshot of society and her father’s successes and failures in it.

This is the second memoir I have read about fathers this year. I was fascinated with the writers’ retreat where Cheever spent some time. Since it is in Saratoga Springs, a place I have been to before, I had to research a visit.

Quotes I liked, “Places he could enjoy without owning them” (p 32) and “Without a novel, there could be no solid literary reputation” (p 99).

Reason read: Susan Cheever’s birth month is in July (the 31st).

Author fact: Susan has a brother named Ben who also wrote books.

Book trivia: Home Before Dark is only one of Susan’s biographies about her family.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “All in the Family: Writing Dynasties” (p 4).

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