A Tragic Honesty by Blake Bailey
The Life and Work of Richard Yates

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Synopsis

The first biography of acclaimed American novelist and story writer Richard Yates


Celebrated in his prime, forgotten in his final years, only to be championed anew by our greatest contemporary authors, Richard Yates has always exposed readers to the unsettling hypocrisies of our modern age. Classic novels such as Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade are incomparable chronicles of the quiet and not-so-quiet desperation of the American middle-class. Lonely housewives, addled businessmen, desperate career-girls and fearful boys and soldiers, Yates's America was a panorama of high living, self-doubt and self-deception. And in the tradition of other great realistic writers of his time (Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Cheever and Updike), Yates's fictional world mirrored his own. A manic-depressive alcoholic and unapologetic gentleman, his life was a hornets' nest of childhood ghosts, the horrors of war, money woes, and ebullient cocktailed evenings in New York, Hollywood, and the Riviera.


A Tragic Honesty is a masterful evocation of a man who in many ways embodied the struggles of the Great American Writer in the latter half of the twentieth century. Fame and reward followed by heartbreak and obscurity, Richard Yates here stands for what the writer must sacrifice for his craft, the devil's bargain of artistry for happiness, praise for sanity.

 

About Blake Bailey

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Blake Bailey is the author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Cheever: A Life, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer and James Tait Black Memorial Prizes. He edited a two-volume edition of Cheever's work for the Library of America, and in 2010 received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.









Author Residence: Norfolk, VA
 
Published June 18, 2013 by Picador. 688 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Tragic Honesty

Kirkus Reviews

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Bailey (The Sixties, not reviewed) tells this heartbreaking story adequately, writing smoothly about Yates’s two failed marriages, his devotion to his three daughters, his friendships with various literary figures (Seymour Lawrence and Andre Dubus among them), his influence on his creative-writin...

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The New York Times

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RICHARD YATES is one of literature's nearly men -- no loser but never quite an outright winner.

Aug 03 2003 | Read Full Review of A Tragic Honesty: The Life an...

The Guardian

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A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey 688pp, Methuen, £25 Thirteen years ago I travelled to Alexandria Bay, New York, to interview the largely forgotten writer Frederick Exley, the author of one marvellous, lachrymose, and above all autobiographical novel, A Fan...

Sep 25 2004 | Read Full Review of A Tragic Honesty: The Life an...

Publishers Weekly

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Richard Yates's most famous novel, Revolutionary Road, set the tone for most of his later fiction: it was, for biographer Bailey, a thinly veiled depiction of Yates (1926–1992) and his immediate surroundings, in many cases with the names barely changed, and was widely praised at the time of its ...

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BC Books

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Having said all that, it is too bad that Yates let the ephemera of awards and shallow recognition hinder his moods, forcing him to drink more, and allowing it to provoke his mental anguish and instability.

Apr 13 2009 | Read Full Review of A Tragic Honesty: The Life an...

BC Books

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Anyone who is familiar with Yates’ work will not only be given background and a mental timeline as to when those works were written, they will also be given Yates’ personal and situational state of mind at the time of those works.

Apr 13 2009 | Read Full Review of A Tragic Honesty: The Life an...

BC Books

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With Yates, everything goes back to The Great Gatsby, and I don’t know what it is with writers who feel the need to bow to those that came before them, but sorry, Yates is better than Fitzgerald.

Apr 13 2009 | Read Full Review of A Tragic Honesty: The Life an...

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