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Eleven Kinds of Loneliness

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,554 ratings  ·  519 reviews
First published in 1962, a year after Revolutionary Road, this sublime collection of stories seems even more powerful today. Out of the lives of Manhattan office workers, a cab driver seeking immortality, frustrated would-be novelists, suburban men and their yearning, neglected women, Richard Yates creates a haunting mosaic of the 1950s, the era when the American dream was ...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published 2006 by Methuen Publishing Ltd (first published 1962)
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Glenn Russell
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books



There are eleven short stories in this collection published as part of the 1980s Vintage Contemporaries series. Since there are many other reviews either synopsizing or speaking to all eleven, in the spirit of freshness and what I hope is a unique way to share some of Richard Yates’ first-rate fiction, I will confine my review to one story I have always found incredibly insightful, a story about a man fired from his office job. Coincidentally, there are eleven markers or movements, eleven near-p
...more
Vit Babenco
Jul 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Isolation and alienation… Misfits and losers… Life is more drab than bleak…
Doctor Jack-o’-Lantern is a story of a pathological liar… An ignorant and unpleasant schoolboy in order to be liked by others told a lot of brainless lies…
“I sore that pitcha. Doctor Jack-o’-Lantern and Mr. Hide.”
There was a burst of wild, delighted laughter and a chorus of correction: “Doctor Jekyll!”
He was unable to speak over the noise. Miss Price was on her feet, furious. “It’s a perfectly natural mistake!” she was sa
...more
Adam Dalva
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good, really bleak, lots of tuberculosis wards. It's eleven kinds of loneliness, but two kinds of stories. Mostly, mid-third person, sparking prose, simple stories with a single pivot (I especially liked a newlyweds story from two perspectives). And then there is the remarkable "Builders," a first-person story that feels personal, and innovative, and strange, as a young Hemingway-obsessed lead begins ghostwriting odd stories for a cab driver. ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again


Books about loneliness are often disturbing, depressing, sad, yet I find myself coming back to their silence and their closely shuttered windows (Hrabal, McCullers, Ebenezer le Page, Tarjei Vesaas, Charles Frazier - to name only a few recent lectures), like a glutton for punishment, as if I didn’t know already all there is to know about loneliness from my own past experiences. It may be because they are in their way more honest than
...more
Robin
I'm not sure why it took all the years of my life up until this point to discover the brilliance of Richard Yates, but it did.

This short story collection is astonishingly good. It's up there with J.D. Salinger's short fiction, with Raymond Carver's, John Updike's too. Strangely, Mr. Yates didn't see great appreciation for his work during his own lifetime. He only ever had one story published in The New Yorker (for shame!), and even that was a posthumous honour.

Each story in this collection, desp
...more
Glenn Sumi
More like: Eleven Kinds Of Brilliance

What can I say? Each story in this book is a gem.

Richard Yates is best known for his debut 1961 novel Revolutionary Road, but his influence on decades of short story writers (especially those working in realism, like Tobias Wolff and Raymond Carver) is obvious.

The themes in these stories, published in magazines before RR but collected in book form and released the year after (1962), are timeless: ordinary people dissatisfied with relationships, family or wo
...more
Jean-Luke
Sep 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New York (duh), the Army (duh), the newspaper business (duh), Paris (duh), TB (X2), restless domesticity (duh), and lots of alcohol (duh), with a surprising amount of the stories set on or around Christmas.

Doctor Jack-o'-Lantern - 4
The Best of Everything - 3
Jody Rolled the Bones - 5
No Pain Whatsoever - 4
A Glutton for Punishment - 3
A Wrestler with Sharks - 5
Fun With A Stranger - 4
The B.A.R Man - 4
A Really Good Jazz Piano - 5
Out with the Old - 4
Builders - 3
...more
JimZ
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I have read anything by Richard Yates. I had a collection of short stories by him for a number of years (The Collected Stories, 2004) but gave away that book to a used bookstore because I had way too many books in my house. What was I thinking?! ☹

So I got this book from the library (it’s the original edition from 1961, it has since been re-issued in 2008), in part, as I recall, because I thought it had a theme running throughout the short stories —loneliness. And indeed, i
...more
Nick Grammos
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americas, american
Quick note.
One of the best writers I've read this last year. Yates has great control over dialogue and regional accents, he can move effortlessly from Bronx to Southern. And the rhythm of the speakers! Captured a whole period of immediately post ww2 America so well. Looking up the novels now.
...more
Chris_P
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shorties, 1960s
You know that a collection of short stories is good, when the worst of them deserves 3 stars.

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness includes 11 stories each of which, as the title suggests, deals with a different kind of loneliness. However, you won't find recently broken-up guys and lonely spinsters here. No, nothing so obvious. Loneliness can take many forms, most of which are so subtle, you can't even tell they're there and that's exactly why this book takes 4.5 stars from me. Because Yates touched diff
...more
A. Dawes
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Note: This will be an ongoing review as I've been endeavouring to do for anthologies and collections. I just feel that every story deserves a little time in the sun. (FINISHED)

This has been on my shelves gathering dust for a while now. The title just sounded so melodramatic, and Yates had a reputation for being on the grave side.

Now that the dust has been wiped away, and I'm reading, I've discovered that these stories are breathtaking - and I'm using that cliché here as there isn't a better sub
...more
rahul
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Koi Yeh Kaise Bataaye Ke Wo Tanha Kyoon Hai,
Wo jo apna thaa wahi aur kisi ka kyoon hai

Yahi duniya hai to phir aisee ye duniya kyoon hai
Yahi hota hai to aakhir yahi hota kyoon hai

- Kaifi Azmi ( from the movie Arth)


How does one explain away his loneliness to another,
That which was once his now belonging to another...

If this how the world is , why is this world like that,
If this is what is supposed to happen,then why does it happen so...


Some days it feels like there are as many Kinds of Lo
...more
Conor Ahern
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gather that this book is often called New York's "Dubliners," but it seemed to be more "Winesburg, OH" than anything else: dark, sympathetic, and radiating lonely despair. I can't help but believe that Yates was probably a bitter old man, haunted as much by his mystifying failure to achieve success despite unalloyed critical acclaim for his writing as by the interpersonal catastrophes that must have provided at least partial material for his characteristic stories. Each of these regrets manife ...more
Eric
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficciones
The cover blurb of my edition calls it midcentury New York's 'Dubliners.' That's not really an overstatement. Yates shares Joyce's deft drawing of fluid movement and reasonant gesture. He can conjure bodies and situations with just one or two sharp details. Delicate domestic realism, sparely styled--for a while now the default mode of American short story writing--has no better exemplar. So elegant! ...more
Lulu
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book or rather, collection of short stories, is superb! This was the third work of Yates that I have read and I think it may be my favorite. Each story was so rich with raw human emotion that I could feel the characters' pain in my stomach. Yates' ability to convey the human condition is uncanny. He is by far the best writer I have ever read. There may be other writers who have written more important or revolutionary works, who have crafted more intricate plots, but I have never encountere ...more
Dan
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates

This is a collection of eleven short stories that you guessed it relate to the themes of loneliness and despair. I loved Yates’s Revolutionary Road and all of the stories in this collection are written with insight and clarity. However there were just two of these stories that I would rate at five stars.

1. Doctor Jack O’ Lantern - disturbing story about a boy who can’t fit in at school. After threatening to kill his classmates he scrawls, on the chalk
...more
Max
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Yates is true to form depicting people struggling to find their place in a society that is filled with people who are self-absorbed and who seek out and exploit the vulnerable. Yates himself and his relationships are woven into these stories as was the case with Revolutionary Road. The failed marriages, heavy drinking, time in the army, ghost writing and journalistic work are examples. His own life seemed to echo his stories, moving from place to place, never feeling successful. The Independent ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would read this book, along with Ottessa Moshfegh's Homesick for Another World, in the dead of night during bouts of wakefulness and I enjoyed both writers' explorations into the lives of the misfits and misbegotten souls that hide among us. The Yates stories are mid-century in setting, so they're coming from a white male perspective at the peak of his reign in U.S. society. Many of the men are haunted by their time in the military. They're also incapable of playing the corporate game, followi ...more
Kat
Eleven perfect slices from the master in dissecting the lives of Americans in the 1950's and exposing lurking tragedy and underlying despair. However, his themes of unhappiness and doomed love, and smothered dreams and ambitions are timeless. Replace the obsession with living the American Dream in the suburbs with creating a picture perfect Instagram life, and what has changed? The vague sense of futility and failure and the feeling of restlessness haven't. There are no weak stories in this bunc ...more
Bloodorange
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us, stories
One of the things I remember from Revolutionary Road is that the delusion of "I am an artsy person destined to do greater things, even though I work in a corporation" is probably as old as corporations themselves. In this collection of stories Yates focuses on people who miss out on things, or cannot achieve things, or whose lives are in some ways stalled. ...more
Toby
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loneliness is, in many ways, an elusive concept. The sense of ‘self’ implicit in such a concept seems to me to be what Richard Yates seeks to illuminate in “Eleven kinds of Loneliness”. Throughout, Yate’s characters – uniformly ‘average’ or otherwise unwitnessed lives – appear to yearn for company and companionship. However, the lesson they so often learn is that other people are not always the cure for loneliness – they are, more often than not, its cause.
Throughout, a thread of character’s in
...more
Steven
"And where are the windows? Where does the light come in? (221)
Having read Revolutionary Road, I expected the eleven stories in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness to be good—but I was still surprised by just how brilliant they were. Yates has an uncanny ability to 'build'—to use a metaphor from the last story—characters that are so real, and stories that are so psychologically and emotionally rich, using (apparently) so few resources.
"Maybe the light is just going to have to come from whatever chinks an
...more
Elena
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant storytelling. Flirting with loneliness, dancing with despair, standing on the edge of agony and failure. Eleven slices of humanity. They made me remember ( and want to watch again ) Kieślowski's Decalogue. This has been my first encounter with Yates, and a truly happy ( bad choice of word here, though) one. ...more
Pickle.
4.5* - ‘Doctor Jack-o’-Lantern’ - I came across this short not realising it was part of a collection.

A self-consciously awkward threeway, a well intentioned but ill conceived teachers attempts at popularising - or at least involving the new kid, Vincent Sabella, and his own inability to fit in with the intricate established order of classmates. The unfathomable depth of misunderstanding makes for some funny moments.
Minus maybe the green rooted teeth, some things seem no different now from the
...more
Vishy
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, haunting title. I read the book just for that. Beautiful eleven stories featured in the book. My favourites were Jody Rolled the Bones, A Glutton for Punishment and Builders. Jody Rolled the Bones made me cry. Recommended.
Nickie
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this more than 5 stars I would. Or perhaps I should go and mark down all previous books a star to balance out.

Richard Yates is one of those writers who gets people. And he's got heart. He's like yer Updike and yer Roth in his beautiful prose style, and he's funny, but unlike yer Updike and yer Roth he gets women, because he can be bothered. He gets women just like he gets men. Not many can do that.

I want to hug this book up all the time, it's so bloody lovely. Short stories can
...more
Joanna
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Richard Yates is now officially my favorite author. His short stories are absolutely blowing me away. I will recommend this to anyone who loves literature. Yates is, I think I can safely say, the best writer I've read.

This book contains some of the best short stories I have ever read. "Doctor Jack-o'-Lantern," "The Best of Everything," "Jody Rolled the Bones," and "Fun With a Stranger" are especially golden. Try to get your hands on this, if only for those stories. He reads humanity with the mo
...more
Tubi(Sera McFly)
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title could also have been "Eleven Kinds of Disappointment." It was sometimes rather depressing to read the moments revealing the naked truth of society and human relationships. Characters who don't know what they want, characters who are not satisfied in life but too afraid or lazy to struggle, characters who seem to lack of courage but mostly prefer to accept the lack of solution in their lives, characters who give up on hope and accept to be losers for the sake of escaping responsibility, ...more
Raghu
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I think of great American authors of the twentieth century, names like Jack London, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and J.D.Salinger come to mind. I had never heard of Richard Yates till recently and had not known anything about him. Recently, I happened to watch the film ‘Revolutionary Road,’ which was based on his book of the same name. In that book, Yates casts a critical eye at suburban American life in the 1950s. He sees that there is tall talk about the American Dream in those days. ...more
Ian Laird
Minor grammatical amendments 19 March 2021

This is reduction story telling with each tale simmered to the point where hardly any liquid remains. In that spirit here are my terse comments:

1. Doctor Jack-O-Lantern - A difficult boy draws an obscenity on the school wall, despite the kindness of his teacher.
2. The Best of Everything - A bride prepares for her husband-to-be. Her heart isn’t in it. And it’s hard for him to put his mates in second place.
3. Jody Rolled the Bones - At a World War Two boot
...more
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Richard Yates shone bright upon the publication of his first novel, Revolutionary Road, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 1961. It drew unbridled praise and branded Yates an important, new writer. Kurt Vonnegut claimed that Revolutionary Road was The Great Gatsby of his time. William Styron described it as "A deft, ironic, beautiful novel that deserves to be a classic." Tennessee ...more

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