Another Tragic Biography?

Blake Bailey, the author of the Richard Yates A Tragic Honesty who inspired a drinking game here earlier in the year, has a new John Cheever biography coming out. The Boston Globe caught up with Bailey. Thanks to a $42,000 Guggenheim fellowship, Bailey says he plans to spend the next two years explaining how Cheever arrived at his tombstone. (Bailey has until December 2007 to deliver the manuscript.) Which suggests an equally arduous and equally moribund biography of another great writer. But Bailey says that he plans to approach Cheever’s life as “a redemptive fable.” Bailey has already talked to half of his 150 sources and read all 28 volumes of Cheever’s private journals.


  1. Not the Seinfeld link Bailey is following:

    Yates daughter dated Larry David – Seinfeld fans that remember the episode Jerry buys a ridiculously expensive suede jacket and he and George go out to dinner with Elaine and her crotchety, incredibly talented author father – Jerry turns the jacket inside out to have pink stripes exposed because it is pouring rain outside after dinner.

    This really happened to Larry with Richard Yates.

    Now Bailey does the Cheever bio – Seinfeld fans will remember the letters that were saved when Kramer burnt down Susan’s father’s cabin…love letters from Cheever to her father.

    Any other literary geniuses noted in Seinfeld episodes Bailey can go after in 2008?


  2. Dan: I’m pretty sure that I mentioned Bailey’s Seinfeld angle before (and if I didn’t, I sure plum MEANT to), but you’re absolutely spot on. What’s interesting about David’s episode is that he actually ended up leaving out several details, honoring Richard Yates more than satirizing him.

  3. You may have Ed.

    I do know that Blake has asked Larry David if in fact there was a story behind why they used the Cheever letters and he didn’t have a personal one for those. He said they were just looking for a well known author who was known to have had homosexual relationships for that story line.


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