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Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Richard Yates
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jun 2008 Vintage Classics
John Wilder is in his mid-thirties, a successful salesman with a place in the country, an adoring wife and a ten-year-old son.But something is wrong. His family no longer interests him, his infidelities are leading him nowhere and he has begun to drink too much. Then one night, something inside John snaps and he calls his wife to tell her that he isn't coming home...

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Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) + Young Hearts Crying (Vintage Classics) + The Easter Parade
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (5 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099518554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099518556
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Yates was born in 1926 in New York and lived in California. His prize-winning stories began to appear in 1953 and his first novel, Revolutionary Road, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1961. He is the author of eight other works, including the novels A Good School, The Easter Parade, and Disturbing the Peace, and two collections of short stories, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and Liars in Love. He died in 1992.

Product Description

Review

"A devastating story that won't let go" (Boston Globe)

"A magnificent writer" (The Times)

Book Description

'One of the greatest American novelists of the twentieth century' Sunday Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing (but Pleasing) 30 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was with a strange and sad feeling that I realised, while reading Disturbing the Peace (first published in 1975), that this was the last time I would read a work of fiction by Richard Yates anew. Methuen have now reissued all his novels in the UK, and the cupboard is bare. And this novel, his third, has a weak reputation, and was the runt of Methuen's litter. Was it worth it?

The answer is yes. Some of it contains Yates's most vivid and immersive writing, not least the 40-page second chapter where the protagonist, John Wilder, spends a long (long) weekend in a psychiatric unit, the Bellevue, after being signed in by his best friend. "With friends like that..." you might think, but where we join the book it is clear that Wilder has for a long time been skirting the lip of a full nervous breakdown, largely fuelled by alcohol dependency. We can only presume that the Bellevue scene, like the utterly destructive alcoholism Wilder suffers, comes from Yates's own experience, in which case it's all the more remarkable that he even left us with this many complete works.

Disturbing the Peace also has a pithiness in much of the dialogue and narrative that some of his later work seems to lack, and lovely careful use of specific words, like the "probably" in the scene where Wilder renounces his lover and returns to his wife, and a paragraph of renewed marital love and happiness ends with the thought:

"This was probably where he really belonged."

However. Just as the book is racing along at a tremendous lick - miserable alco-ad-man, desperate housewife, inscrutably sad kid, all the fun of the fair - there is a switch halfway through which seems to fall somewhere between hazardous and disastrous.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius 18 July 2005
By Jacqui
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I 'discovered' Yates about three months ago. That I'm now on my eighth novel of his already - 'A Good School' - indicates how deeply I've been bitten by the Yates bug. His writing style, for me anyway, is perfection - and he makes it seem so effortless. But you can make up your own mind on that one.
'Disturbing the Peace' chronicles the life of John Wilder - his fragile mental health, his alcoholism and his nervous breakdown. Given what we know about Yates's own life its hard not to infer a great deal of auto-biobiography here (although I know you're not supposed to!)
We see Wilder breaking free from a stultifying marriage and pointless job in advertising to pursue his dreams as a film producer with the woman he loves. The pathos comes from him getting so close but never quite getting there. ( Watch out for a parallel character to Wilder - a writer whose ideas do get transferred to the big screen, suitably named Chester Pratt.)
I won't reveal anymore - I don't want to spoil the plot for you anymore than I already have done. I would like to say, though, that if you've had or have any sort of mental health problem you will probably be able to relate to and sympathise with Wilder. I know I could.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 19th Nervous Breakdown. 28 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Yates not at his best here. 9 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is my first acquaintance with Richard Yates' writing and it is interesting to discover that this is generally regarded as his weakest novel. I found it less than compelling. The most powerful parts were those set in the psychiatric ward and here "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" is in a different league. I suppose my main problem with the book was establishing any kind of rapport with the central character. I found it hard to credit that he was so successful in his work, a highly pressurised and competitive field, and the relationship with his wife is pretty one-dimensional. It certainly does not strike me as having anything like the sustained insight or steady focus of Updike at his best. Nonetheless, clearly something struck home since I feel I would like to read "Revolutionary Road", a more celebrated novel than this one, I gather.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet genius.
Richard Yates is simply one of the best writers who ever lived and certainly deserves to be remembered in the same breath and Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative writing
Like a previous reviewer noted, the well is sadly running dry. I now have only one Richard Yates work left unread. I love everything that he has written. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Philip Mayo
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-reading Disturbing the Peace
Re-reading this novel Richard Yates is a great chronicler of the end of the American dream, that underneath 'success' - of being a top Ad Exec. Read more
Published 11 months ago by JimWays
4.0 out of 5 stars Stomach turner
This was a stomach turner not because of any horror but the brilliant description of the agonising (for the reader) way this man crumbles to nothing.
Published 20 months ago by Art
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive...
I really like Richard Yates, and this book evidences why. It is the story of a bored ad-man in New York, and his gradual descent into a nervous breakdown. Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2011 by bloodsimple
4.0 out of 5 stars My peace was definitely disturbed
John Wilder sells advertising space and has a comfortable but boring life in Manhattan. He's disappointed - with his family, his job, his life, himself. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2011 by D. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and wonderful
This is a brilliant book. If you're a fan of Mad Men - Complete Season 1 [DVD] [2007] and the sordid underbelly beneath that era's bright-eyed exterior, then you're in for a real... Read more
Published on 27 July 2010 by BiLL J
4.0 out of 5 stars my introduction to richard yates
i saw revolutionary road at the cinema, and to be honest before this i had never heard of mr yates or been familiar with his work. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2009 by Mr. M. Bounds
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing the Peace
A book ahead of it's time in it's depiction of the insanity which comes from alcoholism
Published on 2 Aug 2009 by ..
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating and gripping
My First Yates and the beginnings of a beautiful journey of discovery. Gritty and at times stark. Wilder the Anti hero a man amongst all of us spirals deeper and deeper into the... Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2008 by K. R. Connolly
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