John Cheever's New Yorker stories
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"The Swimmer" by John Cheever (The New Yorker, July 18, 1964)
Neddy Merrill, a suburbanite blessed by wealth, good looks and an athletic physique, lounges at the edge of a friend's pool on a lazy midsummer afternoon in suburban New York. He is as content as a man can be, and he decides to prolong this perfect day by swimming across the county, from one pool to another, meeting friends and sharing drinks with them.
He is initially greeted warmly by his neighbors and their guests. However, as his journey progresses, several cracks begin to appear in this idyllic setting: "For Sale" signs mysteriously appear, former friends treat him with indifference and disdain and make accusations against him, and the weather takes on an autumnal appearance. Neddy becomes increasingly bewildered and exhausted, until he reaches home, where a final surprise awaits him.
"The Swimmer" is considered to be one of Cheever's best short stories, and it was later made into a 1968 movie that starred Burt Lancaster. I thoroughly enjoyed this dark, surrealist story, which is the first work by John Cheever that I've read. (4½ stars)