Brooke's Reviews > Disturbing the Peace

Disturbing the Peace by Richard Yates
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Oct 04, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: classic

** spoiler alert ** I got ‘Disturbing the Peace’ because it promised me alchy fiction (this was before I’d seen ‘Revolutionary Road’). Richard Yates does not write pretty prose. And he doesn’t have literary allusions scattered throughout his work. It’s very bare and simple. The prose AND the subject matter (for the most part). And yet, it absolutely devastates you. If you saw ‘Revolutionary Road’ then you know what I’m talking about. I forget the female characters name but man…yeah, I get that. That endless search for what’ll make you happy. And I think, to some extent, that’s what ‘Disturbing the Peace’ was about too. Which…kind of disappoints me in a way but at the same time…I don’t mind because they’re so vastly different.

Either way…this is my response: FUCK.

Richard Yates is probably not a good author to read if your emotional state isn’t at a solid good. Like, I know people who are depressed or just…not feeling the greatest tend to skew towards depressing books because…reading non-depressing books would seem even MORE depressing. But…I do not think that is the case with Richard Yates. I read Prozac Nation like…two years ago, I think. And I would say that despite how depressing most of it is, it is a pretty okay book for someone who’s messed up to read. But…anything Richard’s Yates IS NOT.

I wouldn’t call this book a literary master piece. I’m not sure I sympathize with any of the characters besides Tommy and he was mentioned for maybe ten pages total. And this is the only time I ever kind of liked the main character:

“Wilder had learned once, in some elementary science course either at Grace Church or at Yale, that the reason for a retractable scrotum in all male mammals is to protect the reproductory organs in hazardous or distressful situations: sharp blades of jungle grass, say, will brush against a running animal’s thighs, and the testicles will automatically withdraw to the base of the trunk. He wasn’t sure if he had it right—did he have anything right that he’d ever learned in school?—but the basic idea seemed sound, and in any case it was happening to him now: his balls were rising, right there in the coffee shop.”

BUT…I still feel like shit after reading it. So…Yates did something right. And he probably needed a whole lot of psychiatric help himself.
I guess…well, you know being a “writer” I understand the process to some extent. The subject matter that you write reflects you. So the subject matter of Yates’ work? Yeah. This guy was not happy. I don’t know if he ever was. There really aren’t even spots of joy in his work, there are only fleeting ALLUSIONS of happiness. And that’s the closest he ever comes to exploring that feeling.

Either way. I’m a bit shell shocked after having finished it.
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message 1: by Don (new)

Don Fredell Did anyone but me think this was JD. Salinger. The one who wrote Raise the high The Roof beams Carpenter . The same tight sentences that managed to reveal more than the words. A wonderful book and the best on alcoholism there ever was.


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