Disturbing the Peace by Richard Yates (1975). A meticulous, relentless account of failure and depression, this mordant novel examines the American pursuit of success in accents that echo Fitzgerald and O’Hara. Its protagonist, John Wilder, is a prototypical Yates underachiever: an advertising salesman misled by delusions of an artistic career (as a movie producer) and hampered by inherited weaknesses, a hopeful yet doomed marriage made during the glamorous Kennedy era, and a series of breakdowns that reveal his irreversible ordinariness. Not quite tragedy, but memorable indeed for its uncompromising, compassionate bleakness.
Total Points: 7 (AMH 7)