Richard Yates (novelist)

Richard Yates (novelist)

Infobox Writer
name = Richard Yates

caption = Richard Yates in 1960
birthdate = February 3 1926
birthplace = Yonkers, New York
deathdate = death date and age|1992|11|7|1926|2|3
deathplace =
occupation = novelist, short story writer
genre =
movement = Realism
nationality = United States
influences = F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Gustave Flaubert
influenced = Andre Dubus, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford
website =

Richard Yates (February 3 1926 – November 7 1992) was an American novelist and short story writer. He was a chronicler of mid-20th century mainstream American life, often cited as artistically residing somewhere between J.D. Salinger and John Cheever. He is regarded as the foremost novelist of the post-WWII Age of Anxiety.


Born in Yonkers, New York, Yates came from an unstable home. His parents divorced when he was three. and much of his childhood was spent in many different towns and residences. Yates first became interested in journalism and writing while attending Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connecticut. After leaving Avon, Yates joined the Army, serving in France and Germany during the late 1940s and early 1950s.cite journal
authorlink = Stewart O’Nan
title = The Lost World of Richard Yates
journal = Boston Review
volume =
pages =
date = October-November 1999
publisher =
] Upon his return to New York he worked as a journalist, freelance ghost writer (briefly writing speeches for Senator Robert Kennedy) and publicity writer for Remington Rand Corporation. [cite journal
authorlink = Richard Ford
last = Ford
first = Richard
title = Essay; American Beauty (Circa 1955)
journal = The New York Times Book Review
date = 2000-04-09
publisher = The New York Times Company
url =
accessdate = 2008-03-31
] His career as a novelist began in 1961 with the publication of the widely heralded "Revolutionary Road". He subsequently taught writing at Columbia University, the New School for Social Research, Boston University (where his papers are archived) [cite journal
authorlink = Martin Naparsteck
title = Drinking With Dick Yates
journal = The North American Review
volume =
pages = 75
date = May-August 2001
publisher =
] , at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop and at the University of Southern California Master of Professional Writing Program.

In 1962, he wrote the screenplay for a film adaptation of William Styron's "Lie Down In Darkness". Twice divorced, Yates was the father of three daughters: Sharon, Monica and Gina. In 1992, he died of emphysema and complications from minor surgery in Birmingham, Alabama.cite news|first=Eric|last=Pace|title=Richard Yates, Novelist, 66, Dies; Chronicler of Disappointed Lives|url=|work=The New York Times|publisher=The New York Times Company|date=1992-11-09|accessdate=2008-03-31]


Yates' first novel, "Revolutionary Road", was a finalist for the National Book Award that year (alongside Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer" and Joseph Heller's "Catch-22"). Yates was championed by writers as diverse as Kurt Vonnegut, Dorothy Parker, William Styron, Tennessee Williams and John Cheever. Yates' brand of realism was a direct influence on writers such as Andre Dubus, Raymond Carver and Richard Ford.

Yates was also an acclaimed author of short stories. Despite this, only one of his short stories appeared in the "The New Yorker" (after repeated rejections). This story, "The Canal," was published in the magazine nine years after the author's death to celebrate the 2001 release of "The Collected Stories of Richard Yates."

For much of his life, Yates' work met almost universal critical acclaim, yet not one of his books sold over 12,000 copies in hardcover first edition. [cite journal
authorlink = Elizabeth Venant
title = A Fresh Twist in the Road For Novelist Richard Yates, a Specialist in Grim Irony, Late Fame's a Wicked Return
journal = Los Angeles Times
volume =
pages =
date = July 9, 1989
publisher =
] All of his novels were out of print in the years after his death, though his reputation has substantially increased posthumously and many of his novels have since been reissued in new editions. This current success can be largely traced to the influence of Stewart O'Nan's 1999 essay in the [ Boston Review] [ "The Lost World of Richard Yates: How the great writer of the Age of Anxiety disappeared from print"] .

With the revival of interest in Yates' life and work after his death, Blake Bailey published the first in-depth biography of Yates, "A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates" (2003).

Popular culture citations

*Yates was portrayed in an episode of "Seinfeld" as "Alton Benes", Elaine's taciturn and hard-driving father who has George and Jerry scared of him. Yates' daughter, Monica, once dated Larry David, the show's executive producer.
*In the movie "Lonesome Jim" the protagonist cites Yates as one of his favorite authors and adds that when he died all his books were out of print.
*In Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters", Lee (Barbara Hershey) thanks Elliott (Michael Caine) for lending her "The Easter Parade", which she says was great.
*Richard Yates was godfather to the veteran character actor John Lacy.
*Singer Tanita Tikaram's 1992 album title, "Eleven Kinds of Loneliness", was borrowed from Yates' 1962 collection of short stories.
*In "Million Dollar Baby" Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is seen reading a book by Yates.
*Tao Lin's second novel, "Richard Yates", is named after Yates.


*"Revolutionary Road" (1961)
*"Eleven Kinds of Loneliness" (stories) (1962)
*"A Special Providence" (1969)
*"Disturbing the Peace" (1975)
*"The Easter Parade" (1976)
*"A Good School" (1978)
*"Liars in Love" (stories) (1981)
*"Young Hearts Crying" (1984)
*"Cold Spring Harbor" (1986)
*"The Collected Stories Of Richard Yates" (2001)


*"The Bridge at Remagen" (screenplay) (1969)
*"Lie Down In Darkness" (screenplay, unproduced) (1985)
*"Revolutionary Road" (2008)


Further reading

*Mitgang, Herbert, [ "Moving the Story Along"] , The New York Times, October 28, 1984.
*O'Nan, Stewart, [ "The Lost World of Richard Yates: How the great writer of the Age of Anxiety disappeared from print"] , "Boston Review", October/November, 1999
*Wood, James, [,12084,1312156,00.html "Out of the ashes: James Wood salutes Blake Bailey's generous biography of Richard Yates, A Tragic Honesty"] , The Guardian, Saturday September 25, 2004. Guardian article on Yates biography.

External links

* [ Richard Yates Archive (which contains all of the following links)]
* [ Ann Beattie review of Yates' "Collected Stories"]
* [ "Austin Chronicle" review of Yates' "Collected Stories"]
* [ Eleven Kinds of Loneliness: A Website for Richard Yates]
* [ "Identity Theory": interview with Yates' biographer, Blake Bailey]
* [ Moby Lives elegy on Yates]
* [ "Pif Magazine" profile of Yates] * [ "Ploughshares" interview with Richard Yates]
* [ Potrzebie: "The Renaissance of Richard Yates"]
* [ Review of Yates' "Collected Stories"]

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