Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (10)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing (but Pleasing)
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...
Published on 30 Jan. 2007 by John Self

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Yates not at his best here.
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...
Published 12 months ago by Bluecashmere.


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing (but Pleasing), 30 Jan. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Paperback)
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. It's a reflexive and self-referential bit of narrative sleight of hand which seems quite out of keeping with Yates's usual pinpoint realism, almost postmodern by his standards, and threatens to derail the whole thing. And the sudden changes which follow this (I kept skipping back going, How did we get here again?) suggest reams of unproductive prose hacked out by an editor - or Yates the morning after.

Gradually, though, this bizarre bit of fancy is assimilated into the story and begins to make more sense as the story goes on. In Yates's biography, Blake Bailey suggests that the book is intended in part as a satire on modern values of sanity and insanity, but it's hard to detect this among the usual - and brilliant - Yates miserablism. The ending is more satisfying than (and as bleak as) many of this others, giving a circular sense of completeness to the story.

It seems to me that much of Yates's best work came toward the end of his life - Cold Spring Harbor, Young Hearts Crying - which makes his early (ish: 66) death a greater loss yet. He had also begun producing books more swiftly as the years went on - fifteen years for his first three, ten years for the next four. His loss to literature is immeasurable, but seven kinds of loneliness are better than none.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 19th Nervous Breakdown., 28 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 18 July 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive..., 18 Aug. 2011
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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. It begins with a trip to an asylum, and ends with his disintegration.

With Yates, the narrative flows smoothly and the dialogue is spot-on. It's all so simple, it makes you wonder why other authors get so wrapped up in complexity, and make you work so hard for nuggets of insight. At no time do you feel the book has become simplistic, or patronising to the reader. Here, Yates does not travel down the bickering route of Revolutionary Road. Instead, the main character gradually drowns in his own gently rising insanity.

Classy, elegantly simple, absorbing. Excellent.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
By 
Bluecashmere. (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My peace was definitely disturbed, 18 Mar. 2011
By 
D. Moore (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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. To mask the disappointment and alleviate the boredom, he drinks and has affairs. Away from home at a convention he has a breakdown and, on his return to New York, he calls his wife from a bar and tells her that if he comes home he'll kill her and their child. As a result of his threats he's commited to Bellevue. This is a great tale of delusion and paranoia, which feels a lot like a cross between One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Mad Men. The beginning, in particular, is depressingly wonderful and the book is heartbreaking, simple and raw. For god's sake don't read it if you're feeling miserable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars my introduction to richard yates, 1 Dec. 2009
By 
Mr. M. Bounds "boundsy65" (england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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.the idea that people leading comfortable lives are not necessarily any happier than the less fortune of us seemed an interesting idea.so i decided to further explore the fiction of Richard Yates. Being familiar with revolutionary road through the cinema i decided to read Disturbing the peace. i found this a very good read. John Wilder a man with a good, well paid job, a devoted and loving wife and a small son. seemingly in an ideal position in life.To me it showed me how mental illness and addiction can happen to the best of us. This book had very good characterisation, i found that i could picture the people and the environment they inhabited very clearly in my mind. i found John Wilder despite all his faults to be a sympathetic character underneath his mental illness. As i said the appeal of Richard Yates work to me was how we can view other peoples lives against our own when we see them on a very superficial level and not see the pain that these people can possibly be in.There are John Wilders all around us and his story is probably more relevant now in the twenty first century, then when it was written.
For me the book lost something when he became involved, albeit unsuccessfully with Hollywood. i found that John Wilder lost a bit of that everyman quality he had about him. that said i was very impressed with this book and the simple but effective ending will stay with me for a very long time. i look forward to catching up with the further works of Richard Yates in the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative writing, 13 Oct. 2013
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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. I am amazed that "Disturbing The Peace" was received negatively by the critics when published on 1975. To me it is another example of superlative writing and should be held in the same regard as the works of John Updike, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Richard Ford and Anne Tyler. If you like those writers you will like this book. I won't repeat what the book is about - that has all been said above.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and wonderful, 27 July 2010
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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 treat. A tremendous tale of a man caught in a downward spiral. If you liked Revolutionary Road, then this is a terrific book to read next.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Re-reading Disturbing the Peace, 3 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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.- John Wilder never gets over the sense of loss - that he could have followed his individual dream instead of settling for an 'average' life as he sees it. Perhaps he's taken the cowardly / safe route and then makes a desperate attempt to be out of the ordinary. Echoes of April Wheeler and her acting debut. There's many harrowing scenes and although it's difficult to like the characters, they are so easily identified with. A great novel. Also worth reading are the comments in Blake Bailey's excellent biography. Yates is often compared to Cheever and perhaps Updike, also I think there's some similarities with John McGahern - the remarkable writing making complex human emotions, of their time, simple to grasp and appreciate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics)
Disturbing the Peace (Vintage Classics) by Richard Yates (Paperback - 5 Jun. 2008)
£8.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews