Friday, March 18, 2005

EQUAL TIME for the side of me that is distinguishable from a particuarly shallow 14-year-old girl.

This is a story of a book that you must read, and how I came to read it.

My favorite episode of "Seinfeld" -- not the one I think is best, but my favorite -- is "The Jacket," in which Elaine's father is an obscure but well-regarded novelist who scares the living shit out of Jerry and George. In watching a DVD, I learned that the episode was based on Larry David's similarly scary experience meeting novelist Richard Yates when David was dating Yates's daughter Monica.

In looking up exactly who Richard Yates was, I came upon some very good notices for a Yates novel called "Revolutionary Road," written in the year of my birth but set several years earlier, in '50s suburbia. The subject matter is sad, bitter, morbid, depressing -- just the way I like it -- but the thing is the writing. Clear, lucid, vivid, without frills but also without a studied absence of frills. Imagine Fitzgerald if he lived up to his admirers' opinion of him.

I won't say much else because my description would be no match for Yates's writing. Trust me. There's an excerpt on the Amazon page I link to above, if you need a taste.

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