Sunday, February 17, 2008

Anyone Read Richard Yates?

Can I just run a poll on how many people have actually read Richard Yates? He's an author that my friend Missy have recommended to me more than once. But part of his appeal is the bleakness of his prose. In his fiction, there are sad people, living sad lives. They dream, only to realise they have been lied to all their lives: that there never was this thing known as The American Dream.

I admit -- it sounds so depressing I have avoided it for a long, long time.

The Guardian visits the works of this American writer. They describe his works as such:

'My characters all rush around trying to do their best, trying to live well within their known and unknown limitations,' Yates explains. 'Doing what they can't help doing, ultimately and inevitably failing because they can't help being the people they are.' This tragic sense is what singles him out from a legion of lesser contemporary chroniclers of failed middle-class lives. 'He sees how valiantly people try, how they struggle with their own mediocrity,' says Hare. 'They're half-good, half-gifted, and it isn't enough against the immense forces of luck and circumstance.'

If we're doing Outmoded Author Challenge: Round 2, Richard Yates seems like someone to add to the list.

Or, Outmoded Author Challenge 2: The American Edition.

6 comments:

Andi said...

I haven't read his stuff, but I love bleak. Seriously. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but if there isn't some (a lot) of tragedy and bleakness I often lose interest. I recently read a book of happy short stories and was so bored I could've passed out.

Andi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bybee said...

I'm annoyed with myself for not thinking of Yates for the Outmoded Authors list!
I've read 3 of his novels: Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade and Young Hearts Crying. Yes, he is bleak. Also read his biography, A Tragic Honesty. A door stop of a book, but very readable. Finally, I've watched "The Jacket" over and over again..it's my favorite Seinfeld episode...Elaine's father is modeled after Richard Yates.

Dorothy W. said...

I've read Revolutionary Road and I remember liking it.

jpderosnay said...

never heard of the guy :o

i'll have to check him out...!

Dark Orpheus said...

Andi "I recently read a book of happy short stories and was so bored I could've passed out." -- I kept reading this line and I laughed every time.

I'm bored by happy books and happy TV shows too. I believe life is made up of a variety of emotions. And it's having the rough and sad experience that help make me appreciate the happy bits.

You are just more complicated. But probably also more colourful.

Bybee Hmm... Maybe we could do a Outmoded Author Part Deux.

But what is it about Yates that you enjoy? Did you cry? Did it break your heart?

Dorothy W Do you remember why you liked it? Just doing a survey on people's opinion on Yates.

JP Good luck. But I wouldn't blame you if it's too depressing to continue.