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4.4 out of 5 stars
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When you read a lot of books, whether they be good or bad, when something extremely well written comes along it stands out immediately. Whether it be a certain quality of writing, or the ability to connect emotionally, or cutting to the heart of the matter as simply as possible or an amalgamation of these, it is very special when they come along. `Eleven Kinds of Loneliness' is one of these books and by the time I had read the first short story on offer, I was held enthralled until I had reached the end. This has eleven short stories that are mainly based in and around New York and have a slight melancholy feel to them, the delicious kind that makes you feel nostalgic without the depression that can come after. The theme of loneliness, in all it's forms, runs through this book and many stories are immensely poignant. Yates has the ability to draw you in and to help you connect with the characters in the stories until you feel their sadness', triumphs and notice their positive traits and flaws within yourself. This is perfect to dip into when you need that hit of top class literature, but is just as good to sit and read from cover to cover in one sitting. It is American literature at it's best and highly recommended reading.

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on 26 April 2017
My last Yates book! So sad but so happy I found this wonderful portrayer of American life of the 50's and 60's. Read all of this man work!!!
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on 12 September 2014
I first read this volume shortly after it was published. I would have been around eleven years old at the time. It was the first contemporary American writing I had read, and a few of the stories were simply beyond me. But the ones I did understand (the stories with an army setting, or the stories about teachers at disadvantaged schools) stayed with me for the next fifty years.
I always meant to revisit the volume - especially after seeing the film Revolutionary Road (based on a Yates novel) - but I couldn't quite be bothered to order it from a bookseller, or fill in an inter-library loan request.
Getting the title on Kindle was so easy, and once I started re-reading the stories I could see why they made such an impression at the time.
Yates' observation of 1950's New York is so precise and meticulous that the world of these stories seems as strange and distant to me now as Chinua Achebe colonial Africa, or Milan Kundera's 1970's Prague.
But they are great stories, and I am so happy my Kindle has put them back in my way again.
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on 21 July 2009
In these eleven stories, Yates (a great writer who truly deserves being rediscovered as he is now) writes about loneliness, about yearning, about details we endlessly recognise in our own lives.
The stories are short, heart felt, sometimes sad and sometimes tender. Yates evokes brilliantly the doubts and ambitions that burn us up and use us up, his characters are all flawed, and yet fascinating. Some people may find some of the stories a little depressing, I can honestly say I just found them thought provoking, real, and refreshing.
A great writer who takes eleven opportunities to craft eleven very different tales.
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on 3 April 2009
I had never heard of Richard Yates, but I added this because Amazon linked it to purchases I'd made of people like Bukowski and Raymond Carver. I'm a massive fan of their short stories, and this is right up there with them. So if you like them, read this. Eleven stories, all set in about the 50s, and all linked by New York (in that at least one of the characters is from there). It reads beautifully, he has a marvellous turn of phrase, and each story lasts just long enough, and lingers in the memory long after. Beautifully realised characters, it's slightly depressing, but not totally so (there are good times) and it's never maudlin. I will be buying more by Richard Yates.
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on 18 May 2009
I recently discovered Yates - and I am so glad I did. This collection of short stories is thought-provoking, abiding, and beautifully written. The characters are vivid, and he captures the contradictions in the essence of 1950s America superbly. It is true that the stories are a little gloomy, but that doesn't mean there isn't real humour there too (redolent of Morrisey). I am glad I discovered Yates - a truly under-appreciated writer.
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on 28 August 2016
A Little bit dated...
The stories in Eleven Kind of Loneliness are about as dated as you can be without writing from an alien planet. For me, anyway. They are well crafted in a piecemeal way and the style is hardboiled, sometimes funny, sometimes- well. a bit self conscious and cheesy.
Characters are invariable male and misaligned in some way with their predicaments; a Bronx boy is supplanted into a genteel middle class school environment and ( of course) cannot enter his schoolmates' world only being seduced by the other-world loveliness of the schoolmistress whom he sexualises and offends.
A wannabe Hemingway writer is commissioned by a ( shock horror, how common) cab driver to ghost write his 'experiences' and his snobbery and lack of talent is thus exposed. All very well, but the wind up is about as Reader's Digest as the reviled corny stories the writer is churning out.
A thwarted and angry ex-infantryman with a mimsy wife ( why he married her is not explained- she totally is not his type) goes out on a sulky drunken spree and after his attempts to seduce a young woman are rebuffed resorts to rape fantasies and anger, finally assaulting a congressman at a picket line.
The stories are meant to convey repression and isolation but the characters are rather stereotyped and theatrical in n outmoded way reminding me of Tennessee Williams without the sweat and sinister lusts- and style. .

The book is worth reading for an insight into the mores and foibles of repressed male America of the 1950's and you will be amused, but the whole effect is rather forced and the style infinitely forgettable.
If you want a more tasty view of 50's America I would suggest Carson McCullers who is as fine as Yates is blunt and bumbling.
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on 5 November 2015
Well written with very well observed characters but that's as far as it goes. I didn't find any of the stories interesting or informative. I do like the cover though.
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on 14 March 2006
The first of many things to love about this book is the bold-as-you-like title. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness? Man goes into publisher's office:
Man: I've got this book of stories I want you to publish.
Publisher: Oh yeah? Let me see that.
Man: Try this one.
Publisher: [reading] Well, this is gloomy as hell, buddy, but there's something there. Maybe we can get them in with a cheery title, they won't know what hit 'em.
Man: I have a title.
Publisher: How many stories have you got for the book?
Man: Eleven.
Publisher: And what's your title?
Man: ...Eleven Kinds of Loneliness.
Publisher: Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, buddy.
And yet - it worked. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness was published, and acclaimed, shortly after Revolutionary Road. Didn't sell, of course, but what do you expect? It is gloomy as hell - but there's most certainly something there. More than something: misery, humiliation, pity, desperation, weakness, ignorance, bullying - oh and loneliness. But despite all this, the stories are bright-eyed and pink-tongued. They shine or bristle with life, even if it's not the sort of life you would conceivably care to share in. This is the sort of thing you get, from the second story, The Best of Everything, about a couple who are about to get married without either really wanting to:
"She'd have time for a long talk with her mother that night, and the next morning, "bright and early" (her eyes stung at the thought of her mother's plain, happy face), they would start getting dressed for the wedding. Then the church and the ceremony, and then the reception (Would her father get drunk? Would Muriel Ketchel sulk about not being a bridesmaid?), and finally the train to Atlantic City, and the hotel. But from the hotel on she couldn't plan any more. A door would lock behind her and there would be a wild, fantastic silence, and nobody in all the world but Ralph to lead the way."
The pleasure in Yates's stories is not some sort of misanthopric delight in seeing the downtrodden trodden yet further down. His characters are unfortunate yet resilient (admittedly because sometimes they're unaware how unfortunate they are); they bear their fate with stoicism, and there are no culpably dramatic Perfect-Day-for-Bananafish endings. Even, in a rare moment of generosity, there is compassionate relief for a character at the end of his story (A Glutton for Punishment), albeit only in the sense that he gets to share his burden with his wife, rather than concealing it as he had intended to.
Whatever the pleasure, it's undeniable and unopposable, because the stories kept me reopening them - just one more - like some sort of anti-candy, as unsweet as can be but nonetheless addictive.
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on 9 December 2012
Maybe like a few readers, I first got wind of Yates thru the Hollywood film version of Revolutionary Road.

This is the perfect intro to this great writer. His writing is a brutal lens on ordinary Americans - the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

His prose has a quality that cuts through to the heart of the matter and I found the stories had to be read in one sitting. It's a wonder why Yates isn't lauded as an American great, he deserves to be.

Give this book a chance and enter his world where the suffocation of existence has never been so well told..
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