Katherine's Reviews > The Easter Parade

The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
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's review
Apr 09, 09

I picked this up because it's by Richard Yates, which means it would be a sordid yet tender little tale of mid-century decline told in precise and never-grandiose prose, and because I thought the title (metaphorical double meaning: "The Resurrection Parade") was very cool.

At first, I felt uncertain about The Easter Parade because there seemed to be this underlying assumption that if their vacillating, favorite-playing dad and social-climbing mom had not gotten divorced, the Grimes girls would have turned out happy and well-adjusted. Even in an era when divorces were less common and considerably more difficult to get, I felt a writer as canny as Yates would have seen through that line in two seconds.

Then I realized that the narrative voice in The Easter Parade sounded exactly like someone who is desperately trying to explain why their life is so messed up. And that's when I really started enjoying it.

If Yates had listened to the over-repeated and not-actually-true maxim "show, don't tell," this book would be six times as long, and really, really awful. His biggest strength is the narrative scalpel stroke. And that's also where it falls off, because ultimately, it reads more like a chronicle of two women's unhappinesses than a novel.

On Yates' portrayal of women in The Easter Parade: Sometimes he's much closer than I'd care to admit, and sometimes he's eye-rollingly off (and as someone who has a close relationship with a sister who is very different from her, I can say there's a lot he doesn't know.)

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