I bought two copies of Eleven Kinds of Loneliness today, one for me (I leant my old one out), one for a friend, and I'm dead excited to remind myself how great he is.
  1. Glutton For Punishment
    This is my favourite from that short story collection. It has all his hallmarks - suburban Americana bleakness - and the final line, nay, final three words, are so perfectly chosen.
  2. Buildings
    As a general rule, I don't like stories about writing stories. It seems to engender a kind of cutesy self reference that bugs me. However, Yates does it perfectly here, making it feel half surreal and half autobiographical.
  3. Revolutionary Road
    WELL DUH. What a fucking sad, heavy, beautiful slog of a book. It's so greyed out and hopeless, it's a total bummer, I'm absolutely in awe of it.
  4. Easter Parade
    Similarly sad but for different reasons, also interesting as the two protagonists are women - in most of his stories the protagonists are men: sad, desperate, weak-willed ones. There's a really bathetic climax to this too.
  5. A Really Good Jazz Piano
    Also from Eleven Kinds..., this is slightly more oblique than his others, like he's trying something out. I like that in short story collections, it plays with the tone a lot. Eleven Kinds... doesn't even feel like a short story collection, more like an epistolary novel, or one of those films made up of several short films. You feel like all the characters know each other. It's all excellent, but this is another one that stuck with me long after reading it.