After getting hold of Blake Bailey’s new biography of John Cheever (reviewed by Geoffrey Wolff in yesterday’s Book Review), I looked up Ned Rorem in the index, wondering if Bailey had included one of my favorite scenes from Rorem’s diaries. Indeed he had.
The entry below, from “The Nantucket Diary,” is dated Feb. 18, 1979. “J.H.” is the late James Holmes, a musician and Rorem’s longtime companion.
Following John Cheever’s death from cancer in 1982, at the end of his life’s work as a novelist and story maker, his reputation as a writer and human, despite his alcoholism — indeed abetted by his recovery from it — was at a zenith. But many more of Cheever’s words were yet to be published. His letters appeared in 1988, and in 1990 and 1991 excerpts from his journals appeared in serial installments of the New Yorker — home since 1935to 121 Cheever stories.