Cheever was born in Massachusetts in 1912 to a prosperous family that lost everything in the crash of 1929. The house was foreclosed, his mother forced to open a shop to make ends meet and his brother had to abandon Dartmouth for lack of tuition money. Cheever himself was either a) tossed out of his private academy for smoking, or b) had to leave because he really wasn't much of a student; the record is unclear on this detail. He had a short story published in a contest by the Boston Herald and was subsequently accepted to the Yaddo artist's colony in the summer of 1934, where he would return again and again throughout his life.
The Wapshot Chronicle (1958), won the National Book Award. He is one of the foremost short story writers of the twentieth century; The Stories of John Cheever (1979) won a Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award and a National Book Award. See? Doesn't get better than this. Here is a complete bibliography. Cheever died of metastasized kidney cancer in 1982, shortly after being awarded the National Medal for Literature at Carnegie Hall.
If you are intrigued, and you should be, I can recommend Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey. Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2009, it won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize.