Friday, June 1, 2012


(L to R) Story Prize Director Larry Dark (yours truly) with authors
Susan Minot, Rick Moody, and Elizabeth Strout (via Dusty Spines)
The three authors who participated in last night's tribute to The Stories of John Cheever at the Center for Fiction, turned out to have strong, sincere connections to Cheever's work. Elizabeth Strout read "The Worm in the Apple" and told how important the stories were to her development as writer. Rick Moody read from "The Jewels of the Cabots" and discussed how the late stories in the book convinced him that indirection could be an effective narrative technique for him. And Susan Minot brandished a faded, hardcover copy of the book with her ratings of various stories in the table of contents, ranging as high as seven stars. She noted that the story she was going to read from, "The Sorrows of Gin," only rated three stars back then, but her estimation of it had grown. I, too, brought my first copy of the booka 1978 mass market paperback with off kilter pages. And Rick Moody had his original copy, as well. He read the very Cheeverian inscription his father had written to him, suggesting that Rick, a mere teen at the time, might never be as good a writer as Cheeverkind of like saying he might not measure up to Chekhov.

The Center for Fiction did a great job with the event, which ended with a panel discussion and questions from the audience. I say we do it again in 25 years.