From Paper to Podcast: A Critical Interpretation of ‘The Reunion’ by John Cheever

John Cheever’s short story ‘The Reunion’ was originally published in an issue of The New Yorker in 1962. It tells the story of an anticipated reunion between a boy and his father, and the disappointment faced when the image the boy has created of his father does not prove to be true.

I wanted to discuss the transition this short story made from its original format to one of the digital age, in the form of a podcast, read by author Richard Ford for The New Yorker: Fiction podcasts. I think that not all digital surrogates work to improve or do justice to their paper forefather, however I really enjoyed the new energy and life that was brought to this story through this podcast.

The way Richard Ford reads this story helped me to take in the story better, because for me, sometimes the way older fiction is published on a page, spreading wide across and fitting many words onto a single page, can cause me to lose my focus. However, when listening to the podcast I gained a better understanding of the plot and some of the interactions that were had between characters, thanks to Richard Ford’s vocal interpretation. This was great for me because I actually read the original first, then listened to the podcast, so any points where I may have had confusion or not properly absorbed that element of the plot were solved.

I would definitely call this digital surrogate of this older piece of fiction a success because I think it not only brings new energy and dynamic to the story, it also gives the story an opportunity to reach a new generation. While podcasts are not everyone’s cup of tea, for those who do enjoy them in this, such a digital time, ‘The Reunion’ is perfect for an adaption. It is also a literal ‘short’ story, being only around 1000 words, as mentioned in the podcast discussion that followed, so it is also a great fit into our fast paced living, because it does not take long to listen to, compared to sitting and taking the time to read it in its original format.

This adaptation of John Cheever’s ‘The Reunion’ was refreshing and helped to bring an old piece of fiction to a new audience. Out of all the digital surrogates I have looked at recently, I would call this one of the most successful.

Works Cited:

Cheever, J. “The Reunion”. The New Yorker, Oct. 1962.

Ford, R. and Triesman, D. “Richard Ford Reads John Cheever”Audio Blog Post. The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. The New Yorker, Date Published Unknown, Accessed on 26 Mar. 2017.


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