John Cheever Reads “The Swimmer,” His Famous Short Story, in Its Entirety (1977)

The Stories of John Cheever, a collection of 61 stories chronicling the lives of “the greatest generation,” was first published in 1978 with much fanfare. The critics liked it. The weighty, 700-page book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1979. The people liked it too. The Stories of John Cheever, Michiko Kakutani wrote in Cheever’s 1982 obit, was “one of the few collections of short fiction ever to make The New York Times best-seller list.”

The collection features some of Cheever’s best-known stories: “The Enormous Radio,” “Goodbye, My Brother,” “The Five-Forty-Eight,” and “The Country Husband.” And also perhaps his most famous short piece of fiction, “The Swimmer.” First published in The New Yorker in July, 1964, “The Swimmer” was originally conceived as a novel and ran over some 150 pages, before the author pared it down to a taut eleven pages. Those eleven pages apparently take some 25 minutes to read. Above, you can hear Cheever reading “The Swimmer,” in its entirety, at New York’s 92nd St. Y. The audio was recorded on December 19, 1977, and it’s otherwise housed in our collection, 550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

Bonus: you can also hear author Anne Enright read “The Swimmer” over at The New Yorker. This version was recorded in 2011.

via The Paris Review

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