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Hailed as “America’s finest realistic novelist” by the Boston Globe, Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, garnered rare critical acclaim for his bracing, unsentimental portraits of middle-class American life. Disturbing the Peace is no exception. Haunting, troubling, and mesmerizing, it shines a brilliant, unwavering light into the darkest recesses of a man’s psyche Hailed as “America’s finest realistic novelist” by the Boston Globe, Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, garnered rare critical acclaim for his bracing, unsentimental portraits of middle-class American life. Disturbing the Peace is no exception. Haunting, troubling, and mesmerizing, it shines a brilliant, unwavering light into the darkest recesses of a man’s psyche. To all appearances, John Wilder has all the trappings of success, circa 1960: a promising career in advertising, a loving family, a beautiful apartment, even a country home. John’s evenings are spent with associates at quiet Manhattan lounges and his weekends with friends at glittering cocktail parties. But something deep within this seemingly perfect life has long since gone wrong. Something has disturbed John’s fragile peace, and he can no longer find solace in fleeting affairs or alcohol. The anger, the drinking, and the recklessness are building to a crescendo—and they’re about to take down John’s family and his career. What happens next will send John on a long, strange journey—at once tragic and inevitable.


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Hailed as “America’s finest realistic novelist” by the Boston Globe, Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, garnered rare critical acclaim for his bracing, unsentimental portraits of middle-class American life. Disturbing the Peace is no exception. Haunting, troubling, and mesmerizing, it shines a brilliant, unwavering light into the darkest recesses of a man’s psyche Hailed as “America’s finest realistic novelist” by the Boston Globe, Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, garnered rare critical acclaim for his bracing, unsentimental portraits of middle-class American life. Disturbing the Peace is no exception. Haunting, troubling, and mesmerizing, it shines a brilliant, unwavering light into the darkest recesses of a man’s psyche. To all appearances, John Wilder has all the trappings of success, circa 1960: a promising career in advertising, a loving family, a beautiful apartment, even a country home. John’s evenings are spent with associates at quiet Manhattan lounges and his weekends with friends at glittering cocktail parties. But something deep within this seemingly perfect life has long since gone wrong. Something has disturbed John’s fragile peace, and he can no longer find solace in fleeting affairs or alcohol. The anger, the drinking, and the recklessness are building to a crescendo—and they’re about to take down John’s family and his career. What happens next will send John on a long, strange journey—at once tragic and inevitable.

30 review for Disturbing the Peace

  1. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    Yates' Mastery at Mounting the Malaise as the Reader Barrels Toward the Raw-Knuckled Reckoning Just like Revolutionary Road, this Yates' novel is a marvel in melancholy. An amalgam of assholes and alcoholics engaging in adultery; and yet, the characters are largely identifiable aside from their nonchalant promiscuity and the prematurity--in their 30s--of their disappointment at life's outcome. As much as you may be amazed at Yates' writing, you are stricken by a constant sense of doom: the stunni Yates' Mastery at Mounting the Malaise as the Reader Barrels Toward the Raw-Knuckled Reckoning Just like Revolutionary Road, this Yates' novel is a marvel in melancholy. An amalgam of assholes and alcoholics engaging in adultery; and yet, the characters are largely identifiable aside from their nonchalant promiscuity and the prematurity--in their 30s--of their disappointment at life's outcome. As much as you may be amazed at Yates' writing, you are stricken by a constant sense of doom: the stunning mediocrity of these stargazers stands inexorably as you all but hear a timer tick toward a terrible reckoning. John C. (JC) Wilder is a successful but bored ad sales man. After a trip to a distillers' convention, he makes a veiled threat to just end it all for him, his wife and son. His friend Paul is called by John's wife Janice to head to the tavern to check on John. In a memorable sequence, John complains to Paul, "I'm not even 36 and I feel old as God. Tell me something... why do you suppose we both married homely women?... John continues, "I guess I settled on Janice because she had these wonderful big tits when she was younger. Figured I could forget the rest of her, the short legs, the fullback shoulders and the face, and just bury myself in those tits forever... but [to Paul] "what's your story? How come you ended up with an alligator like Natalie? After the threat, John C ends up for about 4 days in Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital. He is released, tries AA, a psychiatrist, has more affairs, tries to patch up things with his wife for the benefit of his teenage son, his silver-spooned paramour gets him involved in a screenplay about his Bellevue visit, and he leaves his wife to head to Hollywood with his young paramour to get the story produced. All downhill from there. As Blake Bailey, Yates' biographer, said in noting that Yates' books have never been commercially successful, Yates has long been considered a writer's writer, but not because Yates' writing is esoteric or inaccessible (it's not), but because his "books are too damn depressing for the general reader." While I'm probably a better reader and writer for my experience with two Richard Yates' novels, I'd be lying if I said it was not hard as hell pressing on toward the conclusion of each due to the malaise mounting from what I'd read already.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Mental illness wrecks families. It destroys lives, aggravating close bonds, leaving trust in a state of disrepair. Alcoholism wrecks families. It destroys lives, aggravating close bonds, leaving trust in a state of disrepair. Mental illness and alcoholism combined leaves you isolated from loved ones; you're living in a world of paranoic hallucination and illusory cognizance. She knew her next question would be a difficult one, but she decided to ask it anyway. She might never be in California agai Mental illness wrecks families. It destroys lives, aggravating close bonds, leaving trust in a state of disrepair. Alcoholism wrecks families. It destroys lives, aggravating close bonds, leaving trust in a state of disrepair. Mental illness and alcoholism combined leaves you isolated from loved ones; you're living in a world of paranoic hallucination and illusory cognizance. She knew her next question would be a difficult one, but she decided to ask it anyway. She might never be in California again; she might never see him again. She had to wait for a swelling in her throat to go down before she could trust her voice. "John," she said, "have you made any plans or -- you know -- given any thought to what you might do when you leave here? He looked puzzled, as if she had asked him a riddle. "Leave here?" he said. That was when an orderly came out and announced that visiting hour was over. Thought to be one of Yates's disappointments, I beg to differ. An outlook into the mind of a man in denial of his illness, full of self-ridicule and selfish arrogance; putting his wants and needs as his priority and not realizing all he really needs is to be loved. Not his highest point, but also much better than average. 3.5 rounded up to 4.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mad Dog

    In this book: Nobody really gives a damn about any one else. Friends really aren't friends. Parents are just interested in their children performing a role. Work is not fulfilling. Psychiatrists can't wait to get rid of their patients. This book depicts a world that is not a good place, especially for a mentally ill person. This is typical Yates. The theme is dark. There are no heroes. Alcohol abounds. Spirituality is absent. The prose is sparse and economical. The setting is mainly the early '60 In this book: Nobody really gives a damn about any one else. Friends really aren't friends. Parents are just interested in their children performing a role. Work is not fulfilling. Psychiatrists can't wait to get rid of their patients. This book depicts a world that is not a good place, especially for a mentally ill person. This is typical Yates. The theme is dark. There are no heroes. Alcohol abounds. Spirituality is absent. The prose is sparse and economical. The setting is mainly the early '60s in NYC. I enjoyed this book, but 'enjoy' doesn't always seem like the right word. So much of this stuff just rings true. I often say 'Yeah, I observe that too' when reading this book. Beyond the 'observational fiction', there is a 'meaty story' with a hook to it. There are ups and downs. There are interesting happenings. There is even the 'cool aspect' of a story within a story. I was interested in what is going to happen with our protagonist, even though he is not a guy that I would like. Except for a problem with his reading, our protagonist could be considered the 'anti-Forrest Gump'. I think Yates is both enhanced and limited by his secularistic style of writing (exhibited in this book as well as others of his). I think the enhancement comes because Yates is probably accurately depicting his NYC milieu. I think the limitation comes because there is an obvious lack of perspective when one takes a totally secular approach to life (and ignores the 'spiritual'). Yates' NYC milieu is a little bit of a challenge for me, as the 'happy hour after work' and 'drinks with lunch' world is a bit removed from my suburban world. Although I do know that there are 'Yates fans' that do not care for this book, I can not fathom that. Thinking about it, it seems inevitable that Yates would write a book with a mentally ill person as the protagonist. Mental illness is not a much of a stretch from 'the normal' in Yates' world. And as far as the lack of redemption here (or in other Yates' stories), that doesn't bother me. Redemption is something for us to work out in the real world. A book like this just reinforces the 'notion' that redemption isn't easy to come by (and doesn't always come). And perhaps that (the difficulty of redemption) is a more 'redemption-friendly message' than one gets in entertainment that offers 'connect the dots' redemption. Not that I don't mind a little 'connect the dots' redemption. I just re-watched and enjoyed the first Rocky movie.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    This covers Yates' familiar (and heavily autobiographical) themes: alcohol, strained relationships, lack of communication, dull job in advertising/media, amateur dramatics, time in the army, depression etc and takes it to new depths: the descent into madness. Yet, as ever, he finds a new slant, so the story is simultaneously fresh and familiar. It starts fairly dramatically, and follows the subsequent ups and downs of John Wilder's 30s - a compelling read. As well as the usual traumas for a Yates This covers Yates' familiar (and heavily autobiographical) themes: alcohol, strained relationships, lack of communication, dull job in advertising/media, amateur dramatics, time in the army, depression etc and takes it to new depths: the descent into madness. Yet, as ever, he finds a new slant, so the story is simultaneously fresh and familiar. It starts fairly dramatically, and follows the subsequent ups and downs of John Wilder's 30s - a compelling read. As well as the usual traumas for a Yates protagonist, issues arising from the church, parental expectations and physical inferiority are also thrown into the mix. John Wilder wants to "find order in chaos" and glimpses the redemptive power of self-esteem, yet is always striving for something of which he is not quite sure, sometimes exacerbated by a compulsion to say the worst about himself. The strength of this book is more in the plot and slightly less in the language than some of his others (a spindly Christmas tree is too obvious a metaphor), though "the slope of his back must have been eloquent" was a striking image. Nevertheless, this is more polished than Young Hearts Crying and certainly has more layers (Yates analysing himself through the story of a character undergoing analysis and unburdening himself by writing about it) - Charlie Kaufman should film it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Breene

    About a week or two ago, the guy I intern for passed down a copy of Yates' 'Revolutionary Road' which absolutely hooked me on Yates' writing. He's incredibly economical and precise while also being almost gymnastic (a term my old man gives for his favorite writers, but I find it fitting here, too). I read "Easter Parade" following "Revolutionary Road" then a few of the short stories from The Collection and now, "Disturbing the Peace." It's strange to say, since this is a story about the demise o About a week or two ago, the guy I intern for passed down a copy of Yates' 'Revolutionary Road' which absolutely hooked me on Yates' writing. He's incredibly economical and precise while also being almost gymnastic (a term my old man gives for his favorite writers, but I find it fitting here, too). I read "Easter Parade" following "Revolutionary Road" then a few of the short stories from The Collection and now, "Disturbing the Peace." It's strange to say, since this is a story about the demise of a successful man into bleak and oppressive insanity, but this is by far the most 'fun' of Yates' work that I've read so far. There is a jubilation in the insanity and a real sense of pleasure when John Wilder regains his composure, where there isn't the same moments of happiness in the other novels and stories (that I've read), where there's always an awesome, foreboding doom. I can't recommend Yates more highly. He's not even in the genre that I typically like (I'm more inclined to like maximalists), but his high level of crafted and sophisticated story telling seems to hit nerves and bones and heart every time, which is all I can really ask for from an author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    doug bowman

    This novel, by one of my favorite late 20th century writers, is a compellingly realistic story of the downward spiral of an alcoholic. It's power comes from the exacting insights into the mundane existence of the characters trying to survive and thrive in modern society; along a view into the mind of a man making a step-by-step descent into a private hell. As Yates draws you into Wilder's mind, you find yourself,like the main character, unable to see the bottom, until you have made the slow desc This novel, by one of my favorite late 20th century writers, is a compellingly realistic story of the downward spiral of an alcoholic. It's power comes from the exacting insights into the mundane existence of the characters trying to survive and thrive in modern society; along a view into the mind of a man making a step-by-step descent into a private hell. As Yates draws you into Wilder's mind, you find yourself,like the main character, unable to see the bottom, until you have made the slow descent into insanity. I found the book incredibly insightful, with accurate representations of the madness of addiction. The book never descends to the level of moralizing or sermonizing, and that makes it all the more powerful. Yates creates an empathy between reader and character, and that makes the outcome all the more gripping.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Can Richard Yates write crap? I haven't found it yet. Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade were realist masterpieces that everyone who enjoyed Mad Men should pretty much be forced to read at gunpoint, and his short stories reach high peaks indeed. And while Disturbing the Peace didn't hit me quite as hard as The Easter Parade, it still hit me pretty bad, and yes, there were times when my jaw slowly dropped at Yates' writing skills. Slowly, our protagonist loses his mind, time and time and ti Can Richard Yates write crap? I haven't found it yet. Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade were realist masterpieces that everyone who enjoyed Mad Men should pretty much be forced to read at gunpoint, and his short stories reach high peaks indeed. And while Disturbing the Peace didn't hit me quite as hard as The Easter Parade, it still hit me pretty bad, and yes, there were times when my jaw slowly dropped at Yates' writing skills. Slowly, our protagonist loses his mind, time and time and time again. The depictions of mental illness are at times painful to read, and they're horrifically accurate, and yet, there is no tedium. Each loss, each failure still hurts. This is Thomas Hardy-level bleak, people, but twice as good.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Such a beautiful and progressively dark read. We spend 99% of the book inside the protagonist's scattered head descending into a slow and unreal madness. In the final pages we see him as the word sees him. Haunting. Such a beautiful and progressively dark read. We spend 99% of the book inside the protagonist's scattered head descending into a slow and unreal madness. In the final pages we see him as the word sees him. Haunting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gena

    This one took me a while to get through. Sure, it started off well enough, I wanted to know why John Wilder wasn't coming home. But then he is committed to Bellevue, and spends the entire book drinking too much in combination with taking anti-psychotics, having a run-on affair deciding to produce a movie based on his stint in Bellevue. He never redeems himself, his wife remains "comfortable", "civilized" and the book winds itself right back to essentially where it began. I don't like the feel or This one took me a while to get through. Sure, it started off well enough, I wanted to know why John Wilder wasn't coming home. But then he is committed to Bellevue, and spends the entire book drinking too much in combination with taking anti-psychotics, having a run-on affair deciding to produce a movie based on his stint in Bellevue. He never redeems himself, his wife remains "comfortable", "civilized" and the book winds itself right back to essentially where it began. I don't like the feel or texture of his writing style. I agree it is a very realistic style, but I couldn't get into the rants and hallucinations of a crazy man. I didn't feel much compassion for him either. Not sure if I was supposed to. It's a book about mental illness and so I supposed I should just naturally feel more compassion. He is a tragic character. But I wanted more from it, so I'm just going to write this one off. I didn't care for it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Jon Kershaw

    I know Richard Yates novels are very similar. I know he has posthumously become the poster boy of hipster kid literature, but I don’t care, because he writes so well. I am actually really happy he is ‘back in fashion,' because at the time of his death in the early 90s, his books were out of print. I didn’t enjoy this title as much as Eleven Kinds of Loneliness or Revolutionary Road, but it was still a great read. I’m sure Yates could turn the act of making a cup of tea into a dark, tense discuss I know Richard Yates novels are very similar. I know he has posthumously become the poster boy of hipster kid literature, but I don’t care, because he writes so well. I am actually really happy he is ‘back in fashion,' because at the time of his death in the early 90s, his books were out of print. I didn’t enjoy this title as much as Eleven Kinds of Loneliness or Revolutionary Road, but it was still a great read. I’m sure Yates could turn the act of making a cup of tea into a dark, tense discussion of middle class malaise.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I enjoy Richard Yates' fiction, but this was not my favorite. The protagonist is a jerk. He gets himself tossed into a mental hospital for a particularly obnoxious episode, and goes into a downward spiral. He treats his wife and family like afterthoughts, and is preoccupied with his own narcissistic pursuits. The characters were decently crafted but not engaging. Not my cup of tea. I enjoy Richard Yates' fiction, but this was not my favorite. The protagonist is a jerk. He gets himself tossed into a mental hospital for a particularly obnoxious episode, and goes into a downward spiral. He treats his wife and family like afterthoughts, and is preoccupied with his own narcissistic pursuits. The characters were decently crafted but not engaging. Not my cup of tea.

  12. 5 out of 5

    JacquiWine

    Continuing with my aim of working my way through the canon of one of my favourite writers, I recently turned to Richard Yates’ third novel, Disturbing the Peace. Following its publication in 1975, critics considered the book to be something of a disappointment, possibly even his weakest. While it may not be as accomplished and as devastating as Revolutionary Road, or as subtle and as melancholic as The Easter Parade, Disturbing the Peace is still a very fine novel. It’s a brilliantly realised po Continuing with my aim of working my way through the canon of one of my favourite writers, I recently turned to Richard Yates’ third novel, Disturbing the Peace. Following its publication in 1975, critics considered the book to be something of a disappointment, possibly even his weakest. While it may not be as accomplished and as devastating as Revolutionary Road, or as subtle and as melancholic as The Easter Parade, Disturbing the Peace is still a very fine novel. It’s a brilliantly realised portrait of one man’s descent into the depths of total despair. Here’s how it opens: Everything began to go wrong for Janice Wilder in the late summer of 1960. And the worst part, she always said afterwards, the awful part, was that it seemed to happen without warning. (pg. 1) Janice is married to John Wilder, the central figure in Yates’ novel. At thirty-five, John finds himself stuck in a comfortable but utterly stifling middle-class existence in New York. Despite his success as a salesman, John doesn’t really enjoy his job selling advertising space in The American Scientist magazine. His marriage to Janice is comfortable but dull, so he plays around a bit; plus he is losing any real ability to connect with his only child, ten-year-old Tommy. In other words, he feels very frustrated with his life. IMG_2645 As the novel opens, John has just arrived back in NYC following a week-long business trip to Chicago. Unable to face the thought of returning home to Janice, John calls her from a hotel bar. It soon becomes clear that John has been drinking fairly heavily, and he is spoiling for a fight. “Okay, here’s another thing. There was a girl in Chicago, little PR girl for one of the distilleries. I screwed her five times in the Palmer House. Whaddya think of that?” It wasn’t the first news of its kind – there had been a good many girls – but it was the first time he’d ever flung it at her this way, like an adolescent braggart trying to shock his mother. She thought of saying What would you like me to think? but didn’t trust her voice: it might sound wounded, which would be a mistake, or it might sounds dry and tolerant and that would be worse. Luckily he didn’t wait long for an answer. (pgs. 2-3) The remainder of the phone call leaves Janice feeling very concerned about John’s state of mind, so much so that she calls their close friend, Paul Borg, and asks him to go and talk to John at the Commodore – hopefully Paul will be able to sort things out, to talk to him man-to-man. When Paul arrives on the scene, John claims he is suffering from exhaustion brought on by a bad case of insomnia in Chicago. In reality, John is on the cusp of a nervous breakdown; he just doesn’t know it, or maybe he cannot admit that he needs help. When Paul persuades him to check into a hospital for some much-needed rest and recuperation, John ends up arguing with one of the doctors, an action that results in his transfer to the Men’s Violence Ward at Bellevue, a psychiatric unit which sounds more like a prison than a place of care. With it being Labour Day weekend, John ends up spending the best part of a week in Bellevue, an experience that is relayed in vivid and gruelling detail in the opening section of the novel. To read the rest of my review, click here: https://jacquiwine.wordpress.com/2016...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    Yates's writing is once again perfection, to me. As usual the subject matter is heavy, but utterly human. I feel most at home reading his words and sometimes I can't tell if it's because of what he says or how he says it. Might be both. Sad that I've finished another one of his novels; eventually there won't be another 'first read' left to savor. Yates's writing is once again perfection, to me. As usual the subject matter is heavy, but utterly human. I feel most at home reading his words and sometimes I can't tell if it's because of what he says or how he says it. Might be both. Sad that I've finished another one of his novels; eventually there won't be another 'first read' left to savor.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Thacker

    10/10 - would sniff dog shit on thumb to remind myself I'm not the second coming of jesus again 10/10 - would sniff dog shit on thumb to remind myself I'm not the second coming of jesus again

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adam Floridia

    Of the four Yates novels I’ve read, this one had the most in terms of plot. Conversely, of the four Yates novels I’ve read, this one was the least engaging. I thought that protagonist John Wilder’s admittance to the psych ward for disturbing the peace happened very quickly (page 16). As proven by Kesey, a psychiatric hospital is a bountiful setting replete with limitless character options. Yates does nothing extraordinary with it. Luckily, Wilder’s stint in the hospital is brief (only 42 pages). Of the four Yates novels I’ve read, this one had the most in terms of plot. Conversely, of the four Yates novels I’ve read, this one was the least engaging. I thought that protagonist John Wilder’s admittance to the psych ward for disturbing the peace happened very quickly (page 16). As proven by Kesey, a psychiatric hospital is a bountiful setting replete with limitless character options. Yates does nothing extraordinary with it. Luckily, Wilder’s stint in the hospital is brief (only 42 pages). I was glad for it to be over and thought it completely unnecessary until I later realized that this uninteresting event would essentially be the heart of the novel. Once Wilder is back with his family, Yates’ writing begins to take stride. The troubled-family dynamic is what Yates captures so brilliantly. He allows the reader to sympathize with, relate to, and condemn Wilder all at the same time. Even when he sends his wife and young son off on their own so that he can chat up a bikini-clad young coed, it is hard to completely contemn him, for he is only human and, as such, suffers from parent issues, a Napoleon complex, and other self-confidence issues. Sadly, most of these character traits are presented directly to the reader rather than through subtle indirect characterization. Even more sadly, Yates entirely abandons the family dynamic by having his protagonist seek out his pipe dream. Rather than read about this more mobile plot twist, I would much rather have read about the wife’s struggle to love her husband and the husband’s struggle to stay with his wife and son. Like in A Good School, Yates implies that this very novel is ostensibly written by one of its characters. This worked extremely well in A Good School; it fails here. Like his characterization, Yates is much too overt in attempt at imbuing this work with its own metanarrative. Having the actors of Wilder’s play debate the analysis of its main character (Wilder himself) as either an everyman or a Christ figure is too transparent; even the director says “‘Might be a little too obvious.’” Why didn’t Yates take his own advice and NOT make Wilder eventually think he is “some kind of messiah, a second coming of Christ”? As if that weren’t a brazen enough metanarrative, there is the later rewriting of the movie script that clearly maps out what will happen in the remaining 70 pages of the novel. Before reading this, I worried that I would soon become bored with Yates’ book because nothing happens. After reading his attempt at a more plot-driven novel, I look forward to getting back to his perfectly rendered slice-of-life novels.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    In Disturbing the Peace, Yates introduces us to John Wilder, an insecure thirty-something ad executive who, we learn right away, is in the middle of a midlife crisis - think unhappy marriage, job dissatisfaction, personal dissatisfaction, extramarital affairs, and booze -- lots and lots of booze. But, it quickly becomes clear that Wilder's crisis isn't really of the midlife variety. Rather, it's that he is flat out delusional. In other words, the man is mad - mad as insane, mad as addicted. Mad, In Disturbing the Peace, Yates introduces us to John Wilder, an insecure thirty-something ad executive who, we learn right away, is in the middle of a midlife crisis - think unhappy marriage, job dissatisfaction, personal dissatisfaction, extramarital affairs, and booze -- lots and lots of booze. But, it quickly becomes clear that Wilder's crisis isn't really of the midlife variety. Rather, it's that he is flat out delusional. In other words, the man is mad - mad as insane, mad as addicted. Mad, mad, mad. Now, that's a good story line, if you ask me. Right from the start, Disturbing the Peace had a much different feel that the two previous Yates's novels that I've read. Yes, Yates still writes about ordinary, flawed characters who lives gravitate from a sense of normalcy to urgency, from order to chaos, from acceptance to rebellion. And, yes, Yates still writes great characters that involve us -- as clinical, distant observers and as close observers who feel, sometimes intensely, the experiences and emotions of the characters. But, Disturbing was different in two noticeable ways. First, the pace of it was much quicker; it kinda reminded me of an episode of ER - many more fast paced, crazy ER peaks, but consistently balanced by the slower paced valleys of the characters lives outside of the ER. Now, yes I do know that I wrote previously about how Yates creates a sense of urgency in all of his books, all of his main characters. And, this is true here too. Yet, it still feels different. Dare I say more urgent? Another difference? None of the characters were likable. Not a single one. And, I really wanted to like someone, his wife, his mistress, even Wilder. As an aside, if anyone has read, or reads, Disturbing the Peace and would care to comment on the significance (or not) of including the peripheral storyline of race relations in this novel, please, please leave me a comment. I would love to read your thoughts.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    "But at the same time he was mildly relieved: with her out of the place it would be possible to drink at any time of day, even in the morning" Richard Yates - the long lost original hero and champion of post-war suburban malaise and discontent - follows up his most well known novel, Revolutionary Road, with Disturbing the Peace. Hailed as "America's finest realistic novelist" sums up the narrative of John Wilder, a man so desperately lost in his degenerate and subversive marriage and career (resp "But at the same time he was mildly relieved: with her out of the place it would be possible to drink at any time of day, even in the morning" Richard Yates - the long lost original hero and champion of post-war suburban malaise and discontent - follows up his most well known novel, Revolutionary Road, with Disturbing the Peace. Hailed as "America's finest realistic novelist" sums up the narrative of John Wilder, a man so desperately lost in his degenerate and subversive marriage and career (respectively), yet completely incapable of properly identifying his issues to the point of obdurate pathological psychosis. If not laden with several 'almost-cliches' the book would be less difficult to justify a higher rating. For instance, a movie producer set to produce a short film on a recent bout Wilder had with a mental hospital decides to rewrite the end to produce fourth wall shattering foreshadowing, it's almost laughable and a little condescending that Yates could have thought this was the only way to produce an effort at forthcoming-ness without insulting his own work. However, that aside, Mr. Wilder's downward spiral is nothing short of highly anticipated with pernicious overtones meant to obliterate anything left of a potential silver lining, if that was ever a possibility in the first place. This book starts out with a punch to the throat and only lets up to give a bigger narrative let down later. A great read, and not bad for my first Yates.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Richard Yates wrote "Revolutionary Road", an excellent novel portraying suburban discontent in the 50's. "Disturbing The Peace" is set in the 60's and features more suburban discontent in the form of a 39 year old advertising salesman who is afflicted with alcoholism and psychosis as he acts out an enormous midlife crisis. I found the former to be a much more satisfying book than the latter; one was great, but I found the other to be somewhat dated and shallow. Richard Yates wrote "Revolutionary Road", an excellent novel portraying suburban discontent in the 50's. "Disturbing The Peace" is set in the 60's and features more suburban discontent in the form of a 39 year old advertising salesman who is afflicted with alcoholism and psychosis as he acts out an enormous midlife crisis. I found the former to be a much more satisfying book than the latter; one was great, but I found the other to be somewhat dated and shallow.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tajma

    This is the only Yates novel that I had to force myself to finish.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ahm

    After reading several Yates titles this year, this one feels very weak by comparison. I prefer the realism offered in Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade. Disturbing the Peace gets very meta in a way that comes off corny. Even though Yates hints that he knows it's corny, I believe it reduces the emotional impact of the story. Also, this protagonist totally sucks as a person, so instead of feeling like his outcome is a tragedy, you just kinda shrug and go, "well, dude sucked anyway." Also, I After reading several Yates titles this year, this one feels very weak by comparison. I prefer the realism offered in Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade. Disturbing the Peace gets very meta in a way that comes off corny. Even though Yates hints that he knows it's corny, I believe it reduces the emotional impact of the story. Also, this protagonist totally sucks as a person, so instead of feeling like his outcome is a tragedy, you just kinda shrug and go, "well, dude sucked anyway." Also, I'm so not buying that this irredeemable, dysfunctional, alcoholic, Mickey-Rooney-lookin-ass sucka would be pulling all that hot young trim. Seemed like male-author fantasy to me. Fantasy is fine, but in this kind of book, it just seems ridiculous and gross. The audiobook performer was also very half-assed, and his vocal affectations were schlocky and embarrassing. I'm going to have to skip the other two Yates titles performed by Mark Vietor. Audible Studios is definitely not offering the kind of money required for good talent!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peyton Van amburgh

    Grueling depiction of mental illness and alcoholism. Unlike other Richard Yates novels this one is a little too despairing with no larger meaning. I suppose when you start thinking Walter Cronkite, talking about the Kennedy assassination, is actually talking about you, you need help. As a big Yates fan I enjoyed the usual themes he tackles, and the realism is perfect as usual, but no way would I recommend this beast to anyone, unless maybe they love John Cassavetes movies and The Master, basical Grueling depiction of mental illness and alcoholism. Unlike other Richard Yates novels this one is a little too despairing with no larger meaning. I suppose when you start thinking Walter Cronkite, talking about the Kennedy assassination, is actually talking about you, you need help. As a big Yates fan I enjoyed the usual themes he tackles, and the realism is perfect as usual, but no way would I recommend this beast to anyone, unless maybe they love John Cassavetes movies and The Master, basically art that depicts losers with severe problems who desperately want help and will never get it. Heartbreaking.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emer Tannam

    Usually Richard Yates’ books of suburban desperation are rendered enjoyable and bearable by their sympathetic characters, but the protagonist of this book is a philandering drunk, who’s decline was of no particular interest to me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I got ‘Disturbing the Peace’ because it promised me alchy fiction (this was before I’d seen ‘Revolutionary Road’). Richard Yates does not write pretty prose. And he doesn’t have literary allusions scattered throughout his work. It’s very bare and simple. The prose AND the subject matter (for the most part). And yet, it absolutely devastates you. If you saw ‘Revolutionary Road’ then you know what I’m talking about. I forget the female characters name but man…yeah, I get that. That endless search I got ‘Disturbing the Peace’ because it promised me alchy fiction (this was before I’d seen ‘Revolutionary Road’). Richard Yates does not write pretty prose. And he doesn’t have literary allusions scattered throughout his work. It’s very bare and simple. The prose AND the subject matter (for the most part). And yet, it absolutely devastates you. If you saw ‘Revolutionary Road’ then you know what I’m talking about. I forget the female characters name but man…yeah, I get that. That endless search for what’ll make you happy. And I think, to some extent, that’s what ‘Disturbing the Peace’ was about too. Which…kind of disappoints me in a way but at the same time…I don’t mind because they’re so vastly different. Either way…this is my response: FUCK. Richard Yates is probably not a good author to read if your emotional state isn’t at a solid good. Like, I know people who are depressed or just…not feeling the greatest tend to skew towards depressing books because…reading non-depressing books would seem even MORE depressing. But…I do not think that is the case with Richard Yates. I read Prozac Nation like…two years ago, I think. And I would say that despite how depressing most of it is, it is a pretty okay book for someone who’s messed up to read. But…anything Richard’s Yates IS NOT. I wouldn’t call this book a literary master piece. I’m not sure I sympathize with any of the characters besides Tommy and he was mentioned for maybe ten pages total. And this is the only time I ever kind of liked the main character: “Wilder had learned once, in some elementary science course either at Grace Church or at Yale, that the reason for a retractable scrotum in all male mammals is to protect the reproductory organs in hazardous or distressful situations: sharp blades of jungle grass, say, will brush against a running animal’s thighs, and the testicles will automatically withdraw to the base of the trunk. He wasn’t sure if he had it right—did he have anything right that he’d ever learned in school?—but the basic idea seemed sound, and in any case it was happening to him now: his balls were rising, right there in the coffee shop.” BUT…I still feel like shit after reading it. So…Yates did something right. And he probably needed a whole lot of psychiatric help himself. I guess…well, you know being a “writer” I understand the process to some extent. The subject matter that you write reflects you. So the subject matter of Yates’ work? Yeah. This guy was not happy. I don’t know if he ever was. There really aren’t even spots of joy in his work, there are only fleeting ALLUSIONS of happiness. And that’s the closest he ever comes to exploring that feeling. Either way. I’m a bit shell shocked after having finished it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    In the early 1960s in Manhattan, John Wilder is a man in his mid-thirties with a seemingly successful career and great family life. A wife and son, with everything pointing to a promising life. But after a business trip, John calls his wife and says he is not coming home. What happens next could be characterized as an abrupt break with reality, but Wilder's week in Bellevue, where he is placed after an episode of "disturbing the peace," can be seen as an inevitable midpoint to something that has In the early 1960s in Manhattan, John Wilder is a man in his mid-thirties with a seemingly successful career and great family life. A wife and son, with everything pointing to a promising life. But after a business trip, John calls his wife and says he is not coming home. What happens next could be characterized as an abrupt break with reality, but Wilder's week in Bellevue, where he is placed after an episode of "disturbing the peace," can be seen as an inevitable midpoint to something that has been coming for a long time. When Wilder's reflections carry us back in time to his childhood and the break from his family of origin, we can catch a glimpse of what might have set off this dark journey for him. Now, though, he begins a downward spiral that will carry him into insanity that is horrific and vividly shown to the reader, almost as if we are in his head. Wilder's alcoholism complicates his journey, but some might argue that the drinking led to the insanity, while others would point to the alcoholism as just another symptom of his madness. What is most remarkable about this tale of one man's unraveling mind is how the reader can experience the descent with the character. Even though told in the third person, we can see his view of the world and almost feel what he is feeling. As unsympathetic as this character presents to us, we cannot help but feel his pain. I liked how the story ended. It is 1970, and we are now slightly outside this man's "head" for awhile and can see what the supporting characters are feeling, and how they have fared afterwards. Our outside view also includes a glimpse of Wilder. A startling revelatory glimpse. After I turned the last page, I felt stirred as I hadn't in awhile by a book. But not surprising for a Yates novel, "Disturbing the Peace" is a remarkable journey into one man's disturbed mind. Five stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Clarke Gunter

    A very fine novel about the downward spiral of a man in 1960s Manhattan who is inwardly dissatisfied with himself and everything about his life from his short height to his advertising job, his marriage, and his lack of making a big name for himself, but who outwardly seems to cope with it all ... until he doesn't. John Wilder masks the depths of his despair from everyone. His downward trajectory leads to alcoholism, adultery, and ultimately, insanity. The character development in this novel is A very fine novel about the downward spiral of a man in 1960s Manhattan who is inwardly dissatisfied with himself and everything about his life from his short height to his advertising job, his marriage, and his lack of making a big name for himself, but who outwardly seems to cope with it all ... until he doesn't. John Wilder masks the depths of his despair from everyone. His downward trajectory leads to alcoholism, adultery, and ultimately, insanity. The character development in this novel is masterful. Many times throughout this book, I felt I was reading about someone I knew, someone I wanted to warn and to help, knowing all the while that no one could really help John Wilder. This is a terrific read that had me quickly turning the pages. You won't forget those first few chapters. Richard Yates is primarily known today for his first novel "Revolutionary Road", but I think this is the better novel. I intend to read more of this fine writer's novels and although there has been a resurgence of his work in recent years, I wish he had received all the acclaim he deserved while he was still living.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Curran

    "Everything began to go wrong for Janice Wilder in the late summer of 1960." And here we go again, with Richard Yates damning his characters to a miserable life right from the first sentence. I knew that the author's other books were semi-autobiographical. As I read Disturbing the Peace, I found myself hoping for his sake that this was an odd-one-out. John Wilder's mental breakdowns are horrific in their completeness. But no: it turns out that Yates also experienced a spell in Bellevue Hospital a "Everything began to go wrong for Janice Wilder in the late summer of 1960." And here we go again, with Richard Yates damning his characters to a miserable life right from the first sentence. I knew that the author's other books were semi-autobiographical. As I read Disturbing the Peace, I found myself hoping for his sake that this was an odd-one-out. John Wilder's mental breakdowns are horrific in their completeness. But no: it turns out that Yates also experienced a spell in Bellevue Hospital and lived on a diet of anger and booze. What is miraculous is that something so self-hating and dark is otherwise such a pleasure to read. In the end, it's the apparently effortless prose; the author's sheer natural storytelling ability. And the self-reflexive movie-making chapters are clever without being distractingly tricksy. -------------------------------------------- (Note: a year or so on and I'm currently reading Blake Bailey's superb biography of Richard Yates. It might interest readers to know that Disturbing the Peace's entire opening section is, according to his daughter, "totally true".)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    California evidently signifies something, the same thing, in mid-century settings. It's Xanadu. It's wild, it's where people go to freak out, hit on younger girls, lose themselves, and utterly lose it. The Last Tycoon. Mad Men. And, unfortunately, Disturbing the Peace. This book started off great. There was enough of a balance between sane and crazy to keep things interesting and to make the main character fascinating. I lost interest in this book somewhere in the last third, and really was over California evidently signifies something, the same thing, in mid-century settings. It's Xanadu. It's wild, it's where people go to freak out, hit on younger girls, lose themselves, and utterly lose it. The Last Tycoon. Mad Men. And, unfortunately, Disturbing the Peace. This book started off great. There was enough of a balance between sane and crazy to keep things interesting and to make the main character fascinating. I lost interest in this book somewhere in the last third, and really was over it when things moved to California. This is a sane person trying to tell the story of someone who is insane. The alcoholism part he gets--obviously. And that's I think why I liked the beginning so much. But when Yates tries to explore what would happen should alcoholism open doors to other problems... that's where he lost me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    Having read the Yates biography - "A Tragic Honesty" I realize that this particular novel is largely autobiographical, and likely written under a great deal of publisher pressure in an alcoholic fog...needless to say it isn't my favorite Yates novel. It has moments but it more or less reminds me of a 50's detective pulp...it's got that kind of feel to it. What it definitely lacks is that trapped feeling of inevitability and futility that comes across so strong in R.R. and Easter Parade. But I ha Having read the Yates biography - "A Tragic Honesty" I realize that this particular novel is largely autobiographical, and likely written under a great deal of publisher pressure in an alcoholic fog...needless to say it isn't my favorite Yates novel. It has moments but it more or less reminds me of a 50's detective pulp...it's got that kind of feel to it. What it definitely lacks is that trapped feeling of inevitability and futility that comes across so strong in R.R. and Easter Parade. But I had to read it - he's one of the unsung heroes of American Lit. I'm not going to go into the story - but if you know his story (Yates')you'll recognize the crappy little basement apartment and can imagine him slowly going mad in a self-imposed alcoholicost in front of a type writer...the ending of this novel may have been wishful thinking from those days.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mikki

    Never can I remember reading a book by Yates that gave me so much trouble finishing--I had to force myself through it. Many times during its reading, I started and finished other novels in between. Maybe it was the subject matter -- having to slowly witness a man's descent into an alcohol fueled madness. The book never lets up. Never allows the reader any sense of hope that the protagonist might just veer off from this desolate one-way road and avoid the oncoming collision which we know is just Never can I remember reading a book by Yates that gave me so much trouble finishing--I had to force myself through it. Many times during its reading, I started and finished other novels in between. Maybe it was the subject matter -- having to slowly witness a man's descent into an alcohol fueled madness. The book never lets up. Never allows the reader any sense of hope that the protagonist might just veer off from this desolate one-way road and avoid the oncoming collision which we know is just around the corner.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rod

    Ok, so I've now read a Richard Yates novel that I didn't like that much. Similar thematically to his other books, but the characters never come to life. If you're interested in Yates, don't start with this one...in fact, skip this one...but read Easter Parade or Revolutionary Road or A Special Providence or... Ok, so I've now read a Richard Yates novel that I didn't like that much. Similar thematically to his other books, but the characters never come to life. If you're interested in Yates, don't start with this one...in fact, skip this one...but read Easter Parade or Revolutionary Road or A Special Providence or...

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