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Dismembering the American Dream, Dismembering the American Dream, 0817318259, 0-8173-1825-9, 978-0-8173-1825-3, 9780817318253, , , Dismembering the American Dream, 081738748X, 0-8173-8748-X, 978-0-8173-8748-8, 9780817387488, , , Dismembering the American Dream, 0817358595, 0-8173-5859-5, 978-0-8173-5859-4, 9780817358594,

Dismembering the American Dream
The Life and Fiction of Richard Yates
Kate Charlton-Jones

Trade Cloth
2014. 296 pp.
14 B&W illustrations
Price:  $49.95 s
E Book
2014. 296 pp.
14 B&W illustrations
Price:  $34.95 d
Quality Paper
2016. 296 pp.
14 B&W illustrations
Price:  $34.95 s

Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature

Since his death in Alabama in 1992, the work of American writer Richard Yates has enjoyed a renaissance, culminating in director Sam Mendes’s adaption of the novel Revolutionary Road (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet). Dismembering the American Dream is the first book-length critical study of Yates’s fiction.
Kate Charlton-Jones argues that to read Yates’s tales of disordered lives is to uncover not misery, though the lives he describes are sad ones, but a profound, enriching, and humorous understanding of human weakness and vulnerability. Yates’s narratives absorb his readers so entirely, mirroring their own emotional highs and lows with such skill, that reading becomes recognition. Yates demonstrates his ability to tease powerful human drama out of the most ordinary, quotidian moments. At the same time, Yates’s fiction displays an object lesson in the art of fine prose writing, so it is no surprise that many early fans of Yates were also established writers.
Charlton-Jones explores how Yates extends the realist form and investigates three main recurring themes of his fiction: observations about performative behavior, which are at the heart of all his fictions; his conception of the writer’s role in society; and how he envisages the development of social and sexual relationships. Furthermore, Charlton-Jones illustrates how Yates incorporates some of the concerns and methods of postmodernist writers but how, nevertheless, he resists their ontological challenges.
Drawing on the author’s personal papers and with a foreword by DeWitt Henry and an afterword by Richard Yates’s daughter Monica, Dismembering the American Dream provides an extended critical examination of the often neglected but important work of this gifted and accomplished author. 

Kate Charlton-Jones read English literature at New Hall, Cambridge, before becoming a teacher in London. She returned to academia after having three children. Novelist and memoirist DeWitt Henry is a professor of writing, literature, and publishing at Emerson College. He is the author of Safe Suicide and the editor of Sorrow’s Company: Great Writers on Loss and Grief. He was a founding editor of the literary journal Ploughshares. Monica Yates, a daughter of Richard Yates, lives near Flint, Michigan, with her husband and four children.

"The close reading of Yates’s fiction is enhanced and enabled by an awareness of how his own turbulent and unhappy life was explored and reflected in his work. Charlton-Jones’s research is impressive, as is her ability to apply it in a focused and acute way. Enthusiasm for her subject occasionally undermines the authority of her critical voice, with the occasional slip into a conversational tone. But Dismembering the American Dream is an impressive piece of scholarship, redeeming Yates from misunderstanding and neglect." —Times Literary Supplement

"Dismembering the American Dream is a revelation, not only because it’s a joy to read but because it’s that rare bird of scholarship: incisive yet accessible, enthusiastic but not blindly so–in short, a book that should appeal not only to literature professors but to discerning Richard Yates fans as well." —Ploughshares


Dismembering the American Dream is a wonderful addition to what one hopes becomes the burgeoning field of Yates studies. Charlton-Jones understands Yates's importance as both a literary craftsman and a supreme translator of the mid-century mind. She focuses on what ought to be fundamental understandings: his deft, intuitive grasp of what contemporary sociologists were falling over themselves trying to say; his use of so-called postmodern technique as a function of art rather than dull theory; and his sly pervasive humor amid the much-exaggerated darkness of his work. An engaging introduction to a writer who deserves to be on every postwar American literature syllabus.”
—Blake Bailey, author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates

“Out of Kate Charlton-Jones’s research has been born a book which brings a whole new level of rigor and depth to the nascent field of Yatesian scholarship. Her explication of his technique is as good as any I've seen. The erudition to back up the enthusiasm is simply there, because she's naturally a scholar, and part of her nuanced response to the world is to investigate all the avenues of context. Dismembering the American Dream is strong and true and deeply felt. Kate is one of the future readers Dad knew were coming. He would have been honored by her careful attention.”
—from the Afterword by Monica Yates

"Kate Charlton-Jones offers views of the work of Richard Yates that differ in important ways from earlier interpretations and evaluations of this much under-appreciated writer. All great writers—like Yates—deserve to have their work read from a variety of viewpoints and sets of values. No serious study of Yates the writer and man will be complete without reading Dismembering the American Dream by Charlton-Jones."
—Martin Naparsteck, author of Richard Yates Up Close: The Writer and His Works

“Richard Yates is finally getting some of the recognition for his literary gifts that this master has long deserved, and Kate Charlton-Jones’s study of Yates’s writing is among the most serious, lucid, insightful treatments Yates will ever get. Charlton-Jones avoids the cheap psychologizing that Yates leaves open to facile interpreters, and instead writes with rare intelligence and taste about this gifted writer’s life and career, delving into his subtleties with perception and style. I was enlightened and educated by reading it, and I recommend it highly.”
—Steven Goldleaf, coauthor of United States Authors Series: Richard Yates and editor of The New York Stories

2012 Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature

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Edited by Barbara A. Baker