I’m not a fan of short stories. Not a fan at all. I generally think that they can always include more, and I’m never satisfied with the outcome. I held this opinion upon opening up the first pages of Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, but was soon proved that this collection would defy my firmly held stances on the genre of short stories.
This collection by Richard Yates (perhaps most famous for his debut novel Revolutionary Road) contains 11 stories that each deal with the theme of loneliness and the different ways in which it manifests. Yates is an author that really understands the intricacies of human nature. He has the ability to write a story in which the circumstances you may never have experienced in your life, but somehow, you completely understand where the character is coming from, and you can actually feel what they are feeling. In a lesser author’s hand, these stories could easily be turned into sentimental sob stories that possess a real “I’m a victim” type attitude. However, Yates understands that no one is perfect, and that human emotion is raw and gritty.
The only other author that I can think of that even comes to close to representing the complexities of human behaviour, is Jody Picoult. Imagine Picoult’s style of realism, but take away the occasional romance and sentimentality, and you have Yates. The controversial elements of Picoult’s stories are also present in the stories of Yates. However, Yates was writing in the 1960’s, not 2013 where we have the benefit of contemporary psychological analysis and the freedom to write what we want. This is why the reader can really connect with Yates’ stories; the true definition of a timeless author.
If you really like stories that reflect real life, stories that you can connect to, and you don’t mind being depressed for the next few hours, then give Yates a go. If you are looking for escapism and feel good stories, then Yates is most definitely for you! ~ Pegasus.
You can buy this collection here (along with his famous debut novel): Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (Everyman’s Library (Cloth))