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The Collected Stories of Richard Yates Paperback – 5 Jun 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (5 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099518546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099518549
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Yates was the most perceptive American writer of the twentieth century" (The Times)

"A major literary event...a remarkable achievement" (Independent)

"His short stories...are absolutely wonderful" (Joseph O'Connor)

Book Description

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

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm now in the wistful position of only having one more Richard Yates book to read (Young Hearts Crying). Each of his novels has been utterly compelling, the sad, lost characters totally convincing in their existential angst and inability to cope with the world.
His short stories are equally powerful. The two collections - Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and Liars in Love - rate as among the best short stories I've ever read.
Collected Stories is made up of stories from the two collections named above as well as two stories previously published in 1974 and 1976 in the journal Ploughshares and other previously unpublished stories. This is a fabulous selection. The stories which haven't appeared in the previous two collections are every bit as bittersweet as the others. Yates manages to climb right into the psyche of every disaffected person he conjures up, whether it's an awkward, secretive and friendless child (A Private Possession) or an affable but insecure middle-aged man whose wife has left him (The Comptroller and the Wild Wind).
As with his novels, Yates's short stories are rich with detail taken from his own life. His parents' divorce, his drunken failed sculptor mother, his time in the US Army, his months in a TB ward after contracting tuberculosis, and his own failed marriages have coloured his work indelibly. Yet his stories, though bleak, are never depressing. There is always empathy or at least sympathy as the reader shudders at the floundering souls and their inflated ideas of themselves or their thwarted attempts at success, and there is black humour when they swagger in ludicrous ways, pretending to be people they aren't.
I was left, as ever with Yates, wishing I could flit back in time, buy him a pint and reassure him of his incredible talent.
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Format: Paperback
This essential collection of stories by one of the great unsung American writers of the 20th century is sublime, and will give you so much pleasure over the course of your life that it could well end up being the best value book you've ever bought. It consists of Yates's two collections of stories, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and Liars in Love, together with some uncollected stories. You can read about Eleven Kinds of Loneliness elsewhere, as it's now available on its own, so I'll just give you a taste of the second half of this collection.
The stories in Liars in Love are longer than in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and, in an entirely unexpected turn for those accustomed to Yates's chronic despair, occasionally more optimistic. At least two of the stories - Regards at Home and Yates's longest story, the 44-pager Saying Goodbye to Sally - have tempered hope in their closing lines, as well as some actual jokes. And as always, the details and the dialogues are just so, every single mot precisely juste. The uncollected stories were a surprise, too - no leaden danglers here, scraped up off the bottom of the study drawer: the stories are shorter than most of the previously published ones, but no less achieved. We get to see elements of Yates's life that he hadn't previously cannibalized in novels and stories: such as wartime experiences (rendered with astonishing vigour and clarity in flashback in The Canal) and TB wards. There's a tiny four-pager, witty and brittle, in Bells in the Morning, and a rare first person narrative (Yates's only one, apart from Regards at Home?) in A Last Fling, Like.
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Format: Paperback
I was in two minds as to whether or not to read this book (having read "Revolutionary Road" for a book group and finding it too dark for my liking).

This collection, whilst not exactly a selection of cheery and uplifting stories (!) are beautifully crafted vignettes of different aspects of post-war American life.

Like RR it deals with the "smothered desire of suburban housewives, the white collar despair of office workers ..." [from the cover notes of this edition] but unlike RR, each story has a nugget of hope (not necessarily a happy ending!) but that 'hope for the future' is something I couldn't discern in RR and was what made it too dark for me.

I sometimes feel somewhat shortchanged by short stories, but the ones in this book are so intricate and so full of detail that I felt fully sated after each one!
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Format: Paperback
Richard Yates was an author whose first novel, Revolutionary Road, often seems the key: all the themes and ideas that appear within it in embryonic form will then be systematically expanded and developed in his subsequent work. The stories gathered in this enormous collection show Yates doing precisely that. There are 27 in all, comprising all the tales that had been in both Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and Liars in Love, plus another nine previously uncollected stories. The resulting volume represents not only a bargain for the sales price, but shows almost every shade and complexion of Yates's capacities as a story teller. The novelist explores, digs deeper, fleshes out psychological truths in what are progressively more intense, and emotionally penetrating writings.

Story by story, Yates punctures that homely Norman Rockwell illusion of happiness and affluence pumped out by American popular culture. All the author's signature themes are explored here: figures plucked from the lonely crowd feeling unfulfilled and misunderstood, from the despairing office worker to the quiet misery of the homemaker. This psychologically rich collection is the essential counterfoil to his novels, especially Revolutionary Road. I enjoyed it immensely. A must buy book.
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