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Thursday, 27 November 2014

WRITERS ON WRITING #57: Richard Yates


A popular writer, a writer who gains a broad and sustained contemporary audience, I guess, like any other writer wants to know he's good, and the bestseller lists and the talk shows and his annual income all repay whatever faith it was that sat him down in front of his typewriter in the first place.  But if he's a serious writer that's got to come second...Much more common, and I think the case is mine, [is when] the good work is its own reward and you share it with as many readers as you can and it stays alive, and has some hard-won clarity and richness, some distillation of human investment, that continues to claim some kind of permanent interest no matter what angles fashion may dispose new readers towards...My first book made a big, popular splash and that kind of success was intoxicating, and I was in the racket, in the race, but the down that followed it was miserable, and the real success has been a quieter, more solid kind of thing.  I know the book's good.  It's there.  It wins new readers.  That level is there to be reached, and I don't need a cheering crowd to tell me that it's worth it.  It would be nice to be the fashion, to be recognized for what I'm trying to do –– in the sense that Mailer is, for instance –– life would be easier in a lot of ways –– but the price of doing something difficult and honest, something true, as April Wheeler learned, is doing it alone.

From the transcript of an interview given to DeWITT HENRY in July 1972, found in YATES' private papers after his death.




UPDATE –– January 2016

You used to be able to click HERE to visit Best of Everything: The Richard Yates Archive, which featured news, photographs, links, and a full bibliography.  Unfortunately, the site has now been taken over by a US marketing firm named 'Richard Yates' which uses it to blog about marketing, advertising, public relations, and other subjects of vital importance to the fabulously well-to-do and those who aspire to follow in their footsteps.


You might also enjoy:
RICHARD YATES A Special Providence (1969)
GINA BERRIAULT The Son (1966)
WRITERS ON WRITING #24: Jerzy Kosinski 

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