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by Richard Yates
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I started to have a terrible, itchy, and at first seemingly irrelevant thought: James Wood would dislike my book. Then my thought clarified into something worse: James Wood would dislike this book and he would be correct.
"It is not like learning a skill or a game at which, with practice, one gradually improves. One works hard all right, but what comes, comes all of a sudden and as a breakthrough. One hits on something… It is almost as if the discouragement were necessary, that one has first to encounter despair before one is entitled to hope."
I usually read poetry when I'm trying to write--it makes me swollen with beauty and possibility, with honesty, but it doesn't call up the urge to imitate.
This seemingly innocent question was put to me for the first time a couple of weeks ago when a paperback review copy of a non-fiction book arrived in my mailbox.
James Ross published just one novel in his lifetime. This is a rare thing because of a paradox that lies at the heart of novel writing: it demands such sustained focus, such persistence, so much raw pig-headed stubbornness that anyone who does it once almost invariably does it again, and again, and again. Once is almost never enough.
It's tempting to imagine a linear spectrum of ending “types,” with tied-up-in-a-bow on one end, chopped-off-with-a-blunt-ax on the other. But really, there are so many different kinds of literary endings. What constitutes “satisfying” for different readers?
The deeper you go into your life and your reading, the more precious the long-overlooked gems become once you finally unearth them.
With her new novel, So Much for That, Lionel Shriver strengthens her already credible claim to the title of best living American writer. That’s okay. We were the same way with Faulkner and Poe. Nothing’s more American than not quite recognizing some of our most accomplished artists.
On the violence of Richard Yates's dialog, the failures of human speech in everyday life, and the silent togetherness of man and dog.
This book is very spicy. I would imagine that it made an absolute scene upon its publication.