American writer Richard Yates has undergone something of a renaissance of late, largely thanks to the recent film adaptation of his best novel 'Revolutionary Road'. These days, he's mentioned in the same breath as Updike and Cheever as a chronicler of suburban misadventures and the faded side of the American Dream. 'Disturbing the Peace', his third novel, has long been considered his weakest book -it's not, but its negative reception undoubtedly stems from the tough and gritty subject matter; an ad salesman with a drink problem has a breakdown and is checked into a psychiatric ward. Upon his release, he tries to carry on as normal with his wife, their young child and his job, but his alcoholism along with what he perceives as his failings and disappointments in life, conspire to bring on greater problems.
Yates' writing style is concise and unfussy, and he's easy to read, with a special talent for those uncomfortable human moments that occur between people, and some jet black humour, but it's still a dark and gruelling account of one man's descent into personal despair. For those who have read about Yates' life, there are also some uncomfortably raw autobiographical elements, which perhaps explain why he felt compelled to write it.
If you're reading Yates for the first time, I'd recommend 'Revolutionary Road' or the story collections ('Eleven Kinds of Loneliness', 'Liars in Love') as a primer before tackling his more 'difficult' work.