Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Saturday, December 21, 2013

"The Five-Forty-Eight" by John Cheever (1951)


John Cheever (USA, 1912 to 1982) wrote stories and novels set in suburban America, many are in the vicinity of New York City.   If you are familiar with  the American TV series Mad Men about advertising executives and their families, you have a good sense of Cheever's milieu.  I have previously posted on two of his most famous short stories, both of which I greatly enjoyed, "The Swimming Pool" and "The Big Radio".  The New Yorker published a number of Cheever's short stories, including "The Five-Forty-Eight" (a reference to a train that leaves NYC at that time for the suburbs. 

The story is told by a married business executive working in New York City.  He takes the train back and forth from the suburbs, everyday on the train that leaves at five-forty-eight.  One day he hires a new woman, they called them girls in those days, to be his secretary.  We learn, but we don't learn why at first, she has just gotten out of eight months of hospital confinement.   The man knows how to prey on the insecurities of women.  One day he suggests they go out for a drink after work.  She says she has whiskey at her place and invites him for a drink.  They sleep together and they next day he calls human resources and tells the to fire her.  Now his nightmare begins.  We learn she was confined to a mental hospital for eight month.  I won't give away more of the plot of this really good story other than to say it involves a gun on the train and him face down in the dirt.  Readers who have been treated like the was, will really like how this story ends. 

I read this story in the excellent collection below.


I hope one day to read more of his stories.

Mel u

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