Richard Yates.

Anyone who aspires to write the Great American Novel should read Blake Bailey's new biography of Richard Yates and think twice. By turns modest and affable, psychotic and raging, courteous to a fault and touchy to the point of derangement, this dapper, handsome, immensely appealing man could turn after a drink or two into the cruellest, most irrational, and abusive monster of paranoid monomania imaginable. The wonder is that this baffled self-tormentor, who razed a drunken path through life like a whiskey-fueled twister, wrote some of the coolest, most lucid, and magisterial novels and short stories of the past half-century. Even better, he gave us characters who live on in our imaginations with the poignancy...

 

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