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A Kind of Gnawing Offness

David Haglund: Tao Lin

21 October 2010
Richard​ Yates 
by Tao Lin.
Melville House, 206 pp., £10.99, October 2010, 978 1 935554 15 8
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... The title of Tao Lin’s sixth book and second novel is an act of mild provocation. RichardYates belongs to a biography, not a novel – certainly not one in which Yates himself doesn’t appear. One character in the book steals a copy of The Easter Parade; another reads Disturbing the Peace; a third tells an anecdote about a reading Yates once gave. That’s pretty ...

Just like Mother

Theo Tait: Richard Yates

6 February 2003
Collected Stories 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 474 pp., £17.99, January 2002, 0 413 77125 3
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 346 pp., £6.99, February 2001, 0 413 75710 2
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The Easter Parade 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 226 pp., £10, January 2003, 0 413 77202 0
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... RichardYates faced some formidable obstacles: a broken home, tuberculosis, rampant alcoholism, divorce (twice), lack of recognition and manic depression – a combination that sent him, as he put it, ‘in and ...

Manly Scowls

Patrick Parrinder

6 February 1986
An Artist of the Floating World 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 206 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13608 7
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 337 pp., £4.50, January 1986, 0 413 59720 2
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Young Hearts Crying 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 347 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 9780413597304
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by Ita Daly.
Cape, 144 pp., £8.95, January 1986, 0 224 02833 2
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... Electronics. Far from embodying the samurai tradition which he had extolled in his paintings, the hero of this gentle, moving tragicomedy reminds us of nothing so much as a Japanese Vicar of Bray. RichardYates has been hailed, by Kurt Vonnegut and others, as the chronicler of the generation of middle-class Americans who came of age on the battlefields of Europe in the closing stages of World War Two ...

Kay Demarest’s War

Penelope Fitzgerald

17 September 1987
The Other Garden 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 106 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 224 02475 2
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The Engine of Owl-Light 
by Sebastian Barry.
Carcanet, 390 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 704 9
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A Singular Attraction 
by Ita Daly.
Cape, 144 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02438 8
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Cold Spring Harbor 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 182 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 413 14420 8
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The Changeling 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 223 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 340 40542 2
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... but not in this witty, gracefully-written book. In the upshot Pauline hardly behaves sensibly, but she has reached a measure of self-approval, which is hard come by in Rathmines. In the fiction of RichardYates we are down among the half-lives (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, Young Hearts Crying): New Yorkers who are hopeful as kids, humiliated as adolescents, uncommunicative as adults, although drink ...

I just let him have his beer

Christopher Tayler: John Williams Made it Work

9 December 2019
The Man who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’ and the Writing Life 
by Charles Shields.
Texas, 305 pp., £23.99, October 2018, 978 1 4773 1736 5
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Nothing but the Night 
by John Williams.
NYRB, 144 pp., $14.95, February 2019, 978 1 68137 307 2
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... very intense. He would give a thoughtful answer about the weather. Rock-like, stone-like face, and then suddenly he would break into a big smile. He was gracious, but he said what he thought.’ Like RichardYates, a near contemporary and friend who was also famous on the writing-school circuit for not being famous, Williams served in the war and had a few unsuccessful marriages, drank too much, promoted ...
16 March 2000
Where I Live Now: Stories 1993-98 
by Lucia Berlin.
Black Sparrow, 240 pp., $25, March 1999, 1 57423 091 3
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... Manhattan and involves two 40-ish professionals. It is told in such a different register that it might have been written by another author. The writer Lucia Berlin most puts me in mind of is the late RichardYates, better known as a novelist, but who also wrote two remarkable collections of short stories: Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and Liars in Love. Yates’s technique is a good deal more familiar, and ...

What the Public Most Wants to See

Christopher Tayler: Rick Moody

23 February 2006
The Diviners 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 567 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 571 22946 8
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... Connecticut, and their adolescent children. Set in 1973, with Watergate looming large in the TV schedules, it mixes a story of booze, adultery and heartbreak that wouldn’t be out of place in a RichardYates novel with free-floating semiotic scrutiny of American capitalism. Moody makes a show of listening to the distant ‘opera of economics’ while cracking nostalgic jokes about outdated trends ...

Zoning Out and In

Christopher Tayler: Richard​ Ford

30 November 2006
The Lay of the Land 
by Richard​ Ford.
Bloomsbury, 485 pp., £17.99, October 2006, 0 7475 8188 6
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... old galoots from Yale with moist blue eyes and aromatic OSS backgrounds’ run the local show. ‘If you lose all hope,’ he says, ‘you can always find it again.’ And you sense that both he and Richard Ford would shake their heads if you were to read the novel as the dramatic monologue of a character whose optimism is merely an inversion of RichardYates-style pessimism or a quality he’s been ...
18 December 1980
The Best Short Stories of John Buchan 
edited by David Daniell.
Joseph, 224 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7181 1906 1
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... he is concerned to defend the writer against the usual accusations of anti-semitism, racism and blatant imperialism; to protest against the way he is automatically ranked with Sapper, Dornford Yates and similar figures; and to assert that he is not only worth reading (which the general public has never forgotten), but also worth reading seriously. In her fine biography of Buchan Janet Adam Smith ...
18 October 1984
The Mystery Religion of W.B. Yeats 
by Graham Hough.
Harvester, 129 pp., £15.95, May 1984, 0 7108 0603 5
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Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry 
by Cairns Craig.
Croom Helm, 323 pp., £14.95, January 1982, 9780856649974
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Yeats. Poems 1919-1935: A Selection of Critical Essays 
edited by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £14, July 1984, 0 333 27422 9
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The Poet and his Audience 
by Ian Jack.
Cambridge, 198 pp., £20, July 1984, 0 521 26034 5
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A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 543 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 333 35214 9
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Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £17, August 1984, 0 333 36213 6
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... into recognisable forms and the period between 1890 and 1939 in which they underwent a revival. Against this background, enriched by the contributions of modern scholars from Denis Saurat to Frances Yates and Gershom Scholem, there emerge the first outlines of Yeats’s spiritual biography. As Professor Hough rightly remarks, this remains to be written. Should it ever be completed, this short book ...


August Kleinzahler: Remembering Thom Gunn

4 November 2004
... he is, he’d have to be.’ I gave Thom a copy of Charles Nicholl’s The Fruit Palace, which he loved, likewise Trainspotting. Almost anything scatological had great appeal. He also enjoyed the RichardYates books I shared with him. When I was ill at one point I read through all of Derek Raymond, whom I recommend to anyone with a stubborn bacterial infection. ‘Oh, yes,’ Thom said, ‘he’s ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters

24 January 2013
Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... among them Frederick Exley (A Fan’s Notes), Philip Caputo (A Rumour of War) and Michael Mewshaw (Walking Slow), he is the encouraging old pro, spreading the largesse. He recognised and recommended RichardYates (Revolutionary Road), ‘an all-around swell cat’. The literary shoptalk in these letters is free of jargon and brimming with embattled fellow-feeling. Commiseration and comradeship are the ...

I am a cactus

John Sutherland: Christopher Isherwood and his boys

3 June 2004
by Peter Parker.
Picador, 914 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 330 48699 3
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... for freedom was devastating for the family members he left behind: principally for his mother, about whom he had few nice things to say, and his impressionable, mentally unstable younger brother, Richard, about whom Parker has turned up new material – much of which also makes one think badly of Isherwood. With his family disowned, he formed what would be his longest – and wholly asexual – ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary

15 December 2016
The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard​ Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... recently arrived in Los Angeles. Weiss, who was his first American student, put Cage in touch with him. The story goes that Schoenberg dismissed him, telling him he lacked an ear for harmony. Peter Yates’s book Twentieth-Century Music: Its Evolution from the End of the Harmonic Era into the Present Era of Sound (1968), reported Schoenberg as saying that Cage was ‘not a composer – but an ...
24 August 1995
John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... from now but I imagine the first hundred years, like the first hundred pounds in a fortune, are the hardest to acquire. It was touch and go. He died in 1940, just before the British Empire. In 1953, Richard Usborne published a book called Clubland Heroes, which expanded some of the criticisms made of John Buchan in the Thirties: that he was snobbish, blimpish, mildly anti-semitic and a worshipper of ...

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