Posted by: zhiv | June 1, 2008

Reading Notes: Dewitt Henry and Richard Yates

Yeah, what can I say?  May was just a bad blogging month.  Not even sure what the excuses might be.  My daughter graduated from high school on Thursday, so there’s that.  The new job went through some serious growing pains but seems to have straightened itself out, bringing with it approximately a 2000% decrease in internet time.  And I should add that it feels like I’ve been reading along pretty steadily over the past three weeks or so, although I’ve probably slowed down a fair amount.  The sad part is that the books that I’ve finished and still need to write about are the same ones that were in the bank when I did my last post, three weeks ago.

I’ll mention something else.  I think I was freaked out by Dewitt Henry making an appearance in the comments of this blog, generously noting his appreciation for my posts on Richard Yates.  From what I can tell, Henry is one of the original Yates cognoscenti.  When I was in the first throes of my Yates fever I printed a bunch of stuff up off the very good but sleepy Yates website, RichardYates.org, including the somewhat well-known Stewart O’Nan essay.  In the packet was an interview of Yates from Ploughshares, and it turns out that DeWitt Henry was the interviewer, and the founding editor of Ploughshares.  Henry may have had a legitimate dual purpose, sending out appreciation while looking for a sympathetic reader of his own new book.  I had immediate visions of entering the world of criticism and literary journals along this avenue, continuing to blog and reading Henry’s Father-Daughter book along with his new book, and I spent a long internet session using links on the Ploughshares or some other journal’s website, looking through a number of these literary publications.  But in the end, not surprisingly, this zhiver zhived it, and I did nothing.  My biggest regret is that I haven’t managed to order Henry’s books yet.  But maybe these notes will cause me to get around to it.

But I will say, getting back to notes, that taking a look at Yates through Dewitt Henry is a great way to go further into the great writer and the great book.  As recommended above, RichardYates.org is a great place to start.  And right there, in the news section, are remarks by Henry about Yates’ technique: 

 http://www.richardyates.org/bib_henry.html

I thought that this was extremely well-done, even revelatory, as in “oh, so that’s how you write a great story or novel.”  I read this a couple of weeks ago, and I suppose I should say that it didn’t exactly cause me to speed up in setting down my own thoughts on Yates’ stories. 

Other readers of Revolutionary Road are trickling in.  An old friend/TV writer took it Cabo on vacation and was blown away by it.  I’m finding more and more people who have read it over the past few years, and every single one says, yeah, that was a great book.  Blogger Verbivore snuck it in just before going on vacation, and I thought her post was excellent, and not because she mentioned my own nudge in recommending it: 

http://incurablelogophilia.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/richard-yates-revolutionary-road/

It looks like I’m going to have to do this catch-up in pieces, heading off to yoga and Sunday now.  Lots of notes and thoughts on Mary McCarthy to come, and we’ll see what else is out there.  Am hoping that a quick note like this can break the log jam.  We’ll see.

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Responses

  1. Welcome back! I haven’t read anything by Richard Yates yet, but after reading Incurable logophilia and your reviews, he is on the TRB list.


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