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Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

Front cover paperback
It is refreshing to just read a nice, plain, simple story I thought after reading this book by the late Richard Yates.  I had found it at a sale and it languished on my to be read shelf, so  right after Easter this year, I opened it.  It was an easy read over only four days, and I thought, "Well wasn't that pleasant, no big drama, a sense of something was going on amongst a  few characters, but still no melodramas.  Just a nice story."  

The author was unfamiliar to me but I totally agreed with this Stewart O'Nan quote, "he writes about so average and identifiable, so much like the world we know”    When I read that he is deceased and his books now are seldom found on shelves, I wondered why and realized I perhaps had a treasure.  

Further research and in particular the full  review by Stewart O'Nan of the Boston Review, summed up Yates as someone who should have been read.  He is described as a writers writer but never became popular among readers.  
Back cover paperback

"Since his death in 1992, all nine of Richard Yates’s titles have quietly dropped off the shelves. Once the most vaunted of authors–praised by Styron and Vonnegut and Robert Stone as the voice of a generation–he seems now to belong to that august yet sad category, the writer’s writer. Andre Dubus, who was his student at Iowa, revered him, as does Tobias Wolff, and the jackets of Yates’s books are adorned with quotes by the likes of Tennessee Williams and Dorothy Parker, Ann Beattie and Gina Berriault. When authors talk his name pops up as the American writer we wish more people would read, just as Cormac McCarthy’s used to. In the acknowledgments section of his novellas, Women With Men, Richard Ford makes it plain: "I wish to record my debt of gratitude to the stories and novels of Richard Yates, a writer too little appreciated."And yet, Yates doesn’t fit the mold of a writer’s writer. He’s not a linguistic acrobat like Nabokov or a highflying fabulist like Steven Millhauser, not a uniquely intellectual or obsessive writer the way we think of William Gaddis or Harold Brodkey. In the era that saw Pynchon, DeLillo and Rushdie make their names (before storming the bestseller lists), he wrote about the mundane sadness of domestic life in language that rarely if ever draws attention to itself. There’s nothing fussy or pretentious about his style. If anything, his work could be called simple or traditional, conventional, free of the metafictionalists’ or even the modernists’ tricks. "..."It may be that writers prize Yates because readers haven’t. In a business that often champions shoddy and false work over true and beautiful accomplishments, his fate confirms our worst fears and prods us to demand justice. He’s the most readable and accessible of literary writers...."

This novel opens, " Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seems that the trouble began with their parents' divorce.  That happened in 1930 when Sarah was nine years old and Emily five.  Their mother who encouraged both girls to call her 'Pookie" took them out of New York to a rented house in Tenafly, New Jersey where she thought the schools would be better and where she hoped to launch a career in suburban real estate.  It didn't work out--very few of her plans for independence ever did--"

Good Reads had this about Easter Parade, which I use as I couldn't have said it better, ",,,,,first published in 1976, we meet sisters Sarah and Emily Grimes when they are still the children of divorced parents. We observe the sisters over four decades, watching them grow into two very different women. Sarah is stable and stalwart, settling into an unhappy marriage. Emily is precocious and independent, struggling with one unsatisfactory love affair after another. Richard Yates's classic novel is about how both women struggle to overcome their tarnished family's past, and how both finally reach for some semblance of renewal.  "  

Overall a 4 ****,  no great literary quotes that I will  include here from the story, just a good read.