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Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness [Hardcover]

Richard Yates
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
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Book Description

27 Feb 2009
Richard Yates was acclaimed as one of the most powerful, compassionate and accomplished writers of America's post-war generation. Whether addressing the smothered desire of suburban housewives, the white-collar despair of Manhattan office workers or the heartbreak of a single mother with artistic pretensions, Yates ruthlessly examines the hopes and disappointments of ordinary people with empathy and humour.

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Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness + Young Hearts Crying (Vintage Classics) + Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 696 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman (27 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841593176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841593173
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,657 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

"Revolutionary Road: The literary discovery of the year... It's as brilliantly nuanced as Updike's Rabbit sequence, and as sad as anything by Fitzgerald" (Nick Hornby Guardian Books of the Year)

"Yates is a master" (Sebastian Faulks)

Book Description

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyman's Yates 16 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover
Everyman's Library books rarely disappoint and this collection of Richard Yates is no different. Yates is a neglected genius and his "Revolutionary Road", now brought to wider audience through the recent film, is a masterpiece showing the disillusionment with the American Dream that Scott Fitzgerald had also dealt with three decades earlier. "Easter Parade" is also a superb, if somewhat melancholic read, with characterisations that many contemporary authors would love to emulate. Finally, his short story collection, "Eleven Kinds of Loneliness" is very mixed in format and subject matter, but is uniformly very well written. The only downside, and what stopped this review achieving five stars, was the very short and somewhat superficial introduction. Everyman's Library books usually have an excellent literary essay as an introduction. What we have here are personal reminiscences of Yates the man, and even these are sketchy.

Otherwise an excellent buy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Yates's Fiction 4 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover
Richard Yates's fiction has been out of print for a number of years, and perhaps the recent reissue of several works is due to the 2009 film version of his best-known novel 'Revolutionary Road', with di Caprio and Winslet playing Yates's dysfunctional couple the Wheelers. It's a novel about pretence in marriage - about deception and self-deception equally.
This new Everyman volume provides the best possible introduction to Yates. It's also extremely good value, as you get 'Revolutionary Road' plus an arguably even finer full-length novel 'The Easter Parade', which is again about the unhappy lives of people who live what used to be called "Madison Avenue" lifestyles. In addition, there's Yates's best-known collection of short fiction, 'Eleven Kinds of Loneliness' - spare, compelling stories, whose background settings range from Yates's native New York to expatriate Paris.
Yates was a great stylist, and his work deserves to be discovered all over again by a new generation of readers. It's good to have three of his best works in this handsome hardback publication.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic worth having in hardback 26 Feb 2009
By Reader
Format:Hardcover
This is such a lovely edition. The book is hardback, cloth-sewn and has gorgeous paper. Reading it is such a pleasure. You also get three novels instead of one!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yates is great 1 Nov 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Richard Yates was a madman, so it seems, who wrote at the same time as the show Mad Men is set. He is the real thing. Revolutionary Road is devastating, up there with Updike's Rabbit Run. Trouble is, it was a one-hit wonder. Easter Parade is also good, but not great, a strangely written book with a lot of his real life laced in it. It lacks the honesty and impact of Revolutionary Road despite being full of personal anecdotes and characters. I like his short stories, but not enough to think him the 'legend' some would claim.

Don't be put off reading Yates by the film. The film had its moments, and tried to stay close to the book, but can not capture the writing, which is crisp, sharp and compelling. Most importantly, the film tries to be post-feminist, and the book is pre-feminist. It misses what Yates was getting at by nearly a half century. Five stars for the first in this collection and three each for the other two parts.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truthteller 30 Mar 2009
By Nancy E. Patton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I discovered Richard Yates' work about eight years ago when I was in the US, and have been pressing his books on friends back in Australia ever since. Revolutionary Road is a near-perfect retelling of married life (for some) in the fifties. The soul-lessness of work stations and manipulative bosses resonates today, and the terrible and tragic honesty with which Yates tells his stories has a haunting beauty. Oddly though, not a depressing read as the hope of a better life shines through and readers would have enormous compassion for Frank and April. DiCaprio and Winslett did a sensitive and believable job on screen, but I urge people to read the book to get the real powerful uncompromising story. This particular edition has the bonus of another of Yates' unsurpassed work (The Easter Parade), plus a great selection of his short stories (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness). A great introduction to a master of 20th century American fiction.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the weak of heart 14 Jan 2009
By Shane Halton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Richard Yates was an incredible writer who described his characters with a unstinting, critical eye frequently depicting them as petty, jealous and selfish. At the same he is sympathetic and gives characters ample time to justify their actions both to themselves and those around them. His books are not often easy reads but they are honest and beautifully written.

Also, Raymond Carver learned everything he knew about writing from reading Richard Yates.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unflinching Portrayals of Self-Deception 21 Jan 2010
By Jeffrey Swystun - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading these three works I want to read A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates to gain more perspective on what influenced him. Clearly, the army and wartime, TB, moving homes with frequency, journalism and advertising, and of course, tragic relationships, all have impacted his work. The three efforts are beautifully written and devastating in their unflinching portrayals of self-deception.

The first book is Revolutionary Road and this must be the only time that I have first seen the movie then read the book and not been disappointed or felt robbed in any way. In fact, as strong a treatment as the film was I was able to remove the Hollywood leads as visual or mental representations of the main characters. This speaks to how wonderful the writing is, how rich the story, and just how much more there is in the book that could ever be covered in the film. Do not get me wrong, the film is excellent unlike The Talented Mr. Ripley which ruined Patricia Highsmith's series for me.

Most will be familiar with the storyline and the theme of living together but alone. Set in 1955 (the year my parents married which very much made me think as I read it), the book follows the turbulence and calmness that is Frank and April Wheeler, somewhat arrogant but unaware Connecticut suburbanites who see themselves apart from their neighbors in the Revolutionary Hill Estates. The book opens beautifully embedding the reader in their lives by introducing us to the young couple as April stars in an embarrassingly bad community theater production of The Petrified Forest.

Dancing lightly and gracefully back and forth through their ten or so years together we see April convince Frank they should move to Paris, where she will work and support him while he finds out who he is. At this time he is an unsatisfied promotional writer who ironically has ended up at his father's workplace. April's plan collides or coincides with Frank's unintended but interesting run of success - he actually begins to try at work.

As someone who receives their paycheck from a Madison Avenue business, I thoroughly enjoyed the parts covering Frank at work. Bare minimum effort is absolutely acceptable but when he tries to stay ahead of a potentially embarrassing gaff, he ends of hitting it out of the park in the form of a series of brochures for his IBM-ish employer (Speaking of Inventory Control, Speaking of Sales Analysis, Speaking of Payroll). This happens at the same time that he begins an affair with the receptionist. The two acts are arguably his own revolution against his life, wife and her plans. And he is amazed at how easy it was to attain both (even though he did put in just a little bit more effort than he usually did).

Yates cannot help but give Frank and his neighbor Shep histories that include service in the Second World War (this is common in Yates, I first read it in his The B.A.R. Man). And it strikes me that many of that generation were experiencing some form of post traumatic stress as they built their lives in suburbia, had barbecues and cocktails, and revered Ike in the White House. This is also touched upon in the critically acclaimed period television show, Mad Men, with their pitchers of martinis, old war stories, and sarcastic disdain for the world around them.

Shep is an extremely simple, yet complex, supporting character and his wartime service is remarkable. Having served in the airborne (either the 101st or 82nd), Yates would have us believe he jumped three times making him a veteran of D-Day, Market Garden and Plunder Varsity. One small flaw is that if he was airborne, Shep may not have known let alone sung an infantry song with Frank (but I digress). Shep is an interesting guy because he sees the Wheelers as ideal or the ideal.

One amazing passage is the boss Bart Pollock's little speech in a restaurant on business, selling and promotion. I have heard current day talks on branding and advertising that are not much different. It is just great that Yates nailed it in 1960 and in his first novel. And the setting is fantastic with Frank basically duplicating a meeting that happened to his father years before but this one ending more favorably career-wise.

The plot moves with incredible speed even though there is much going on between this couple and everyone they interact with. When April conceives their third child, their plan to leave America crumbles, not least because Frank is flattered by the attention from Pollock and actually begins to see a career path. So April, overwhelmed by the situation and unable to deal with living on Revolutionary Road for an indefinite period, attempts to self-abort her child. This takes place soon after the comment from John, the mentally troubled son of their realtor whose last statement to them about the pregnancy may have been ringing in her ear, "Hey, you know I'm glad of one thing, though. You know what I am glad of? I'm glad I'm not gonna be that kid."

April is rushed to hospital following her attempt and dies. Her demise and the departure of the remaining Wheeler family impacts all who have placed them on a pedestal. The way that Yates concludes the book with Frank truly alone is one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read. It is simply and eloquently haunting.

The Easter Parade covers roughly four decades in the lives of sisters Sarah and Emily Grimes. Yates at first makes us believe this will be a story focusing on the elder Sarah but quite quickly it is Emily who takes the stage with her sister, parents, various suitors and extended family playing important but ultimately supporting roles.

Emily though younger is more deliberate, efficient, and seemingly put together when compared with her divorced parents and soon-to-be helpless and pathetic sister. Surrounded by these struggling people Emily is positioned as somewhat superior, as having a better read on life and how to live it. Yet she bounces from relationship to relationship and has two abortions along the way. Yates has us wonder if it is Sarah who was the more talented and could have been more successful if only for a few fateful decisions.

Yates covers the thirties to early seventies and spends the most time in the sixties. This is his comfort time zone where he places Emily at an advertising agency writing copy and progressing well until she begins to realize that "It didn't matter what you did for a living; the important thing was the kind of person you were". She intellectualizes this but does not internalize nor act on it. She, like Frank Wheeler, has to some degree, followed her father `s career producing a second generation of poor decisions and sad results (I imagined Frank passing Emily on Madison Avenue with neither registering each other).

The writing is superb but the story is not as strong or tight as Revolutionary Road. But he beautifully conjures up images of Manhattan that seem now stereotypical but must have been real. A father taking his young daughter out for a double ice cream while he enjoys a double scotch, vacuous but fabulous cocktail parties featuring professionals trying to outdo each other, and a city which is so alive it is a character in the story. Emily does not have all or any of the answers in life but Yates leaves the door open for hope and fulfillment and for him that is generous.

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness is a collection beginning with Doctor Jack-o'-Lantern that covers the miscommunications and challenges between student and teacher and student with peers. It also explores the discrimination faced by any one remotely different. The Best of Everything is a quick and unsettling little tale about marriage and a young couple not quite being right for each other. Jody Rolled The Bones has Yates visiting the military as he often does and ably demonstrating how a group of young men can rapidly mature and recognize that often what they need is what they want least.

No Pain Whatsoever is not the strongest of the collection but does establish a setting whereby a couple must make the best of a terrible situation without losing each other. Both A Glutton for Punishment and A Wrestler with Sharks deal with careers and job loss. The former uses a cute childhood analogy while the latter revolves around deception. Fun with a Stranger is an interesting title for this story of envy and disappointment which focuses on the differences in personality and teaching styles.

The B.A.R. Man reveals that one's best days are in the past and once realized it can lead to bad decisions. A Really Good Jazz Piano speaks of lost opportunity and undefined friendships. Out with the Old is a bittersweet tale that takes place on a TB ward (like an earlier one in the collection). Yates provides great humanity to the cast who entertain themselves daily to remove the boredom while at the same time trying to stay connected with their families and the outside world. The final tale, Builders, I found the most intriguing of the bunch. It communicates the need for hope and optimism while extolling the pursuit of farfetched dreams.

The three works are introduced by Richard Price who provides his interesting connection to Yates. It also features a cool chronology covering the Author's Life, Literary Context, and Historical Events which helps with context. I recommend this collection unreservedly and look forward to re-reading it with a scotch or three.
30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Um... 5 Feb 2009
By Teacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'd just like to note the irony in the comment put forth by one of the other reviewers: namely, that the reviewer complains Yates' books are depressing while nevertheless identifying herself as a "World War II enthusiast".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the movie 16 Sep 2009
By Michael H. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While I started my working life the same year this book was published, I didnt read this bestseller until Id seen the recent movie.

Yates is a master of inner dialog and keeps creating deep portraits of his key characters. This helps us understand why they do what they do. The movie is totally one dimensional and you are left asking "why did he/she do that?" You are left with a devistating portrait of the dark side of the American Dream. Even though it was written decades ago, it leaves you questioning why you lived many years in those green,safe suburbs.
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