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This luminous biography reveals, for the first time, the full and unforgettable life of a writer of timeless fiction. Drawing on unprecedented access to essential sources, Blake Bailey shows us a soul in conflict: a high-school dropout who published his first story at eighteen; a proud Yankee who flaunted his lineage while deploring the provincialism of his Quincy, Massachusetts, family circle; a pioneer of suburban-realist fiction who continually pushed the boundaries of realism; a dire alcoholic who recovered to write the great novel Falconer; a secret bisexual who struggled with a revolving door of self-loathing and hedonism. Concealing his anxieties behind the mask of the genial Westchester squire, Cheever earned fame and glamorous company with his groundbreaking work, yet the joy of creation could never wholly offset his desperate loneliness.