Mondays, February 27–April 3, 2017 6:30–8:30 p.m.
James Salter and John Cheever are widely considered to be masters of the short story. Though wildly different in their approaches, both writers are concerned with the forces—external and internal, seen and unseen—that shape our lives. Whether it’s the catty neighbor at a dinner party or some dark force that calls to us in the night, Cheever and Salter recognized that none of us escape the trials of life, no matter how hard we try (or how much gin we drink).
In this series, we’ll dive into Cheever’s and Salter’s short fiction and examine how their characters are so closely observed and intimately portrayed yet remain universal, how fate seems to lurk in even the smallest gestures, and how their heroes’ and heroines’ desperate attempts to prevent the inevitable reveal the best and worst about humanity. Above all, we’ll take a look at the values their characters adopt in order to survive—their code, their way of living—that either sinks them or pushes them through to a kind of hard-earned grace.
Guide: Jay Clarke is a writer, musician, composer, and former English professor. He holds an MA in English from Oregon State University.