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, 1,000 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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

92nd Street Y Launch­es a New Online Archive with 1,000 Record­ings of Lit­er­ary Read­ings, Musi­cal Per­for­mances & More

The New Yorker’s Fic­tion Pod­cast: Where Great Writ­ers Read Sto­ries by Great Writ­ers

Famous Authors Read Oth­er Famous Authors

Stephen Fry Reads Oscar Wilde’s Children’s Sto­ry “The Hap­py Prince”

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