Richard Yates & the Age of Anxiety

Even though Stewart O’Nan’s article in the Boston Review came out in 1999, I still think that the literary forgetfulness of Richard Yates is abundant. True, people might have taken notice of him when the film version of his 1961 novel, Revolutionary Road, came out and really, who am I to talk. I’ve only read one of his novels–The Easter Parade.

He grips you right away and every line is just totally exhausting. The Easter Parade begins with the sentence,

Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents’ divorce.

His fiction deals with the downfall of of members of the family unit. When they crash and burn, our emotions are messed with and our anxieties are realized for fictitious people. Even though I have only read one of his works, I feel confident in proclaiming that Yates was a master of words, plot, craft, and emotions.

In his article for The Independent, author Douglas Kennedy described The Easter Parade as a book of a lifetime and went on to write,

In the autumn of 1992 I stumbled upon a novel that changed my writing career…the fearlessness of Yates’s world view astonished me. Here was a writer willing to articulate so many uncomfortable truths about temporal existence and the great human capacity for self-delusion.

I know we’re all busy, but I think I’m going to try to read a few more in Richard Yates’s oeuvre this year. Perhaps, I shall go chronologically? Or maybe I’ll judge a book by its cover?

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