Tuesday, September 28, 2010

biographies of Exley and Yates

A PS that can stand alone as its own post:

If you're in the market for literary biography, I'd recommend books about Fred Exley and Richard Yates although Yates's biographer was able to comb the world for a lot more material and produce a much more comprehensive book. In fact, Blake Bailey's A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates is rather excellent and satisfying. I loved learning from this book that the Elaine character from Seinfeld is based upon Richard Yates's daughter, and so the suede-leather clown-jacket episode, where Jerry and George drink with Elaine's father in a hotel lobby, is a sensational look at the author himself (although quite exaggerated and fattened up for television). Jonathan Yardley's Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley is still worth a read though; I can see why some reviewers on amazon were disappointed, but I'd say its average of three stars is about right.

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