I think the internet ran away from me for a couple of days. I just found it.<3
Ok, I plead ignorance, but did you know that Dick Cavett blogs for the NYTimes? I had no idea. At anyrate, Cavett’s newest post is on John Updike and John Cheever meeting on Cavett’s show in 1981. Quite remarkable that two titans of American letters came together on a late night talk show. They were both, apparently, repeat guests. Would that even come close to happening nowadays? Could you imagine Richard Ford or Don Delilo appearing on Conan or Letterman? Why can’t writers be late-night celebrities anymore?
(Okay, I know part of this answer, but small aside: there is an amazing article in the new issue of Harper’s Monthly about the book business and about author-celebrity and about money, etc. etc. Here’s the link, and I’ll break it out in a post latter.)
Cavett points out that Cheever and Updike were jealous of each others gifts. They both understood the self-awareness of the art they had created:
“These two great writers sitting there demonstrate the real thing. They praise each other, but in a way that transcends the usual embarrassing, chat-show, face-to-face, fulsome public flattery. (Both would strike out about a half-pound of my intensifying adjectives from that sentence.) They elevate praise to an art form.”
Cavett shows some videos and cuts to commercial … and then he finishes the post by asking everyone if he should keep talking about those two. Leave a comment with a polite and firm, “Yes, Mr. Cavett.”
Also: don’t forget the expansive Cheever biography that comes out this March. It is splendid. I’ll post a review when the book is published.