Yates Was an Unlucky Son of a Bitch
Breaking up with Yates. I read his huge collection of stories and that innocent-looking but ultimately devious, poignant Revolutionary Road. We're breaking up because Richard Yates tells the kind of the truths that people do not often want to hear. And, he is so frank- there was no artifice in the stlye- that you could not blame him. Sometimes you just want someone to lie to you. Just a little? Maybe? No? C'mon...
(Ok, we're not breaking up, but we have to take a break)
His writing is compelling because there is no tragic element in that Shakespearian, Aristotelian sense of the word. No great harmatia that we can point out and say "there, there he stepped on a faulty tile and so he fell into the hole." There is only a luckless son of bitch who always rolls his die off the table. He didn´t even stand a chance in the game.
Yates' writing is good and by that I don't mean that I quiver with fantasies while reading it but he can crack the irony loud enough to make you laugh. His style titilates the brain waves and gives me pause every now and then.
But, mostly, I am stuck on how fucking unlucky these fuckers are.
It always strikes me as enormously funny when people congratulate themselves on an accomplishment and say that it happened because they are smart or talented or...What if you are smart and talented and dedicated and determined and yet your life is a smartless, inept fumbling of forced meditations and Sisiphean drive?
All of the characters are shrinking into small lives. Yates reminds me of John Patrick Shanley, another very keen observer of humble tragedies.
When life gets saucy with us, we get assertive, even aggressive. Big challenges demand big courage or at least a big show of courage. But, out prudence, we dream small, we shield that dream, we crouch around it protecting it with our whole being because it is so so fragile. We risk failure in a tragedy so small, so self-conscious that it leaves no space for heroism.
I don't mean heroism in that Sully Sullenberger on the Hudson way. I mean, we become so self-effacing that all that is left of us is that little dream and so when it fails...nothing left.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."