Thursday 21 February 2008

The Richard Yates Rediscovery Fiesta

I've never met anyone else in real life who has read Richard Yates, though he has a sizeable online following. A great writer and a determined drunkard, he blundered his way through mid-20th-century America, turning out wonderful novels and amazing short stories. It was a remaindered complete collection of these stories that first turned me on to his work, and I've been through most of his other books since then.

Recently there's been something of a movement to restore him to his place as one of the greats, which I heartily endorse. It also means that all of his books are being republished by Vintage Classics, using a very apt selection of 1950s-era magazine and advertising illustrations on the covers--many of Yates' characters worked in advertising or low-level journalism or similar white-collar jobs.

I often have a problem whereby some obscure writer I've hunted down and found in tatty, second-hand editions is later brought back into print. I can't justify the expense of buying the invariably more beautiful new versions when I've already got the books, but sometimes it's hard to resist. I mean, look at these beauties!

(Remember, click to enlarge.)



JonathanM said...

I agree, wonderful covers, so it's a shame they couldn't leave them alone when they hit the shops, but alas no, they had to put bloody red stickers all over them.

JRSM said...

Hi Jonathan: Argh! I didn't know they'd done that--they've yet to be released in Australia. Stickers on book covers are horrible things, for the most part--especially when their removal tears part a large part of the cover away, as happened when I tried to get the huge Foyles barcode sticker off a copy of '24 for 3' I bought recently (weirdly, not from Foyles).

Anonymous said...

Must admit that to me these are ugly new arriviste covers which have replaced the UK Methuen editions. Very curious really, as Methuen brought Yates back into print in the UK with Revolutionary Road in 2001, and steadily reissued his other six novels and collected stories thereafter. Nice covers too (if you don't know them,you can see them here). Then, just as they finished - and just before he's about to get a big punt into the public consciousness with the di Caprio/Winslet film - Vintage took over the reins. The mysteries of publishing rights are - wait for it - a closed book to me.

JRSM said...

Argh: didn't know about that film--I fear it won't work very well. Those Methuen covers are nice, though, but I do really, really love these new ones.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. Winslet and di Caprio reunited for the first time since Titanic! Directed by Mr Winslet, Sam Mendes! I think we can safely say it's going to be huge - until, that is, all the Titanic fans realise it's not much of a romance.

When I first heard about it I thought di Caprio was too young to play Frank Wheeler, then checked my copy and realised he's 29 in the book. Crikey! I always had him pegged in memory at middle-aged for some reason.