In this Book
Kate Charlton-Jones argues that to read Yates’s tales of disordered lives is to uncover not misery, though the lives he describes are sad ones, but a profound, enriching, and humorous understanding of human weakness and vulnerability. Yates’s narratives absorb his readers so entirely, mirroring their own emotional highs and lows with such skill, that reading becomes recognition. Yates demonstrates his ability to tease powerful human drama out of the most ordinary, quotidian moments. At the same time, Yates’s fiction displays an object lesson in the art of fine prose writing, so it is no surprise that many early fans of Yates were also established writers.
Charlton-Jones explores how Yates extends the realist form and investigates three main recurring themes of his fiction: observations about performative behavior, which are at the heart of all his fictions; his conception of the writer’s role in society; and how he envisages the development of social and sexual relationships. Furthermore, Charlton-Jones illustrates how Yates incorporates some of the concerns and methods of postmodernist writers but how, nevertheless, he resists their ontological challenges.
Drawing on the author’s personal papers and with a foreword by DeWitt Henry and an afterword by Richard Yates’s daughter Monica, Dismembering the American Dream provides an extended critical examination of the often neglected but important work of this gifted and accomplished author.