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A Special Providence (Vintage Contemporaries) by [Yates, Richard]
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A Special Providence (Vintage Contemporaries) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Soft-spoken in his prose and terrifyingly accurate in his dialogue, Yates renders his characters with such authenticity that you hardly realize what he's done.” —The Boston Globe"One of America's best-kept secrets. . . . Keenly insightful, brutally honest...delivering a swift kick to the heart." —The Denver Post“Yates writes powerfully and enters completely and effortlessly into the lives of his characters.” —The New York Times Book Review


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Richard Yates was born in 1926. The author of several acclaimed works of fiction, including Revolutionary Road, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, Disturbing the Peace, and The Easter Parade, he was lauded during his lifetime as the foremost novelist of the post-war "age of anxiety". He died in 1992.

Product Details

  • File Size: 690 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307455955
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 27, 2011)
  • Publication Date: April 27, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QZA11S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,971 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Richard Yates is underappreciated. The general reading public doesn't know him. He had all but faded into literary history after his death until a recent short story collection revived interest in his work. But discerning readers of modern fiction have always placed him in the same literary class as John Cheever, John Updike and the other better-known modernists of the second half of the 20th century. His best-selling and arguably best novel was his first, Revolutionary Road, which captured 1950s suburban angst about as well as anybody. His second novel, which was published fully eight years later, is A Special Providence. It is not well known but it, too, is an excellent work. It tells the story of a mother and her son. It focuses partly on the mother's constant and fruitless search for artistic respect and financial security as well as on the son's experiences during World War II. Unlike some Yates novels, A Special Providence holds together from beginning to end. But it is especially strong in describing the son's relatively brief and unfulfilling war experiences in the European theater. Yates certainly isn't known as an adventure writer, but A Special Providence reveals his ability to create a compelling, fast-paced narrative when the story calls for it. In fact, Yates is at his best when he is in the midst of a strong bit of narrative. Some of his other novels ultimately failed, and failed to draw readers, because they descended for prolonged periods into plodding narrative and excessive introspection. This doesn't happen much in A Special Providence, and that's why it's at least his second best novel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yates tells two related stories -- one focused on a mother, the other on her son -- in quiet, elegant prose. The son's is a war story: a young soldier at the end of World War II yearns for heroism but, in small ways, consistently disappoints himself. His story is gripping, but in some ways his mother's smaller story is more compelling. Just as her son fantasizes about being a hero, she clings to an unrealistic vision of herself as a successful artist while enduring (bravely or blindly) the disappointments that comprise her life. Yates concludes the novel by bringing the two stories together in what seems like an inevitable conclusion to the mother's life of disappointment.

The mother and son are realistic, multidimensional characters. They aren't easy to like but, more importantly, they aren't easy to forget.

If you're looking for a happy, Pollyannish ending, this is a book you'll want to avoid. If you're looking for a wonderfully written novel about adversity that conveys a feeling of truth, A Special Providence is worth your time. If I could, I would give it 4 1/2 stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a true american literature Masterpiece. Richard Yates is without any doubt one of the greatest writers of the XX century. What I love about this book and all the other ones he's ever written is the honesty of its characters. Richard Yates describes who we really are and thats probably is why he never reached the recognition he deserved.
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the ultimate choice any man had to make before becomming an adult--is described here with more sympathy for the mother than Yates was later to do.

I do not enjoy war writing so I do not know if it was good or bad, but the character of the mother rang true on many levels - how hard it is to pursue the arts and be a reasonable parent---it did not really matter if she was talented or not--the relationship would have still been complicated, but her mediocrity made it even sadder.

Yates can make something unbearable pleasurable---that is becasue of his brilliance as a writer.

It is no rev road--- that was the masterwork--this is a chamber piece - both are important for serious readers to partake of.
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Format: Paperback
Reading Blake Bailey's biography of novelist Richard Yates (A Tragic Honesty) helped me understand the stories behind the novels--and so, better understand the novels themselves. Not only the real-life bases for so many situations and details within Yates's novels (his work was unabashedly autobiographical); but also the circumstances in which much of the writing took place.

A Special Providence, which followed Revolutionary Road and a story collection called Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, presented Richard Yates with two challenges. It was Yates's second novel, the classic potential pitfall for a novelist with one successful book under his belt: Can he pull it off again? The other challenge was that Yates had not one but two parallel stories he wanted to tell. First, he wanted to deal with his claustrophobic relationship with his mother; and second, he wanted to write about being a square peg, as usual, as a soldier in World War II.

Yates struggled with this novel for a very long time, and the critical response when it finally arrived was not favorable overall. Most critics found fault--appropriately, I think--with Yates's attempt to integrate the two stories with the device of a prologue, two parts, 1 and 2; and an epilogue. But it's a far stronger book than I was led to expect.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Yates’ 1965 novel A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE was more frustrating than I expected. The fifth book I’ve devoured of Yates’ nine volumes, the prose was, as usual, beautiful, and the plotting immaculate. The problem for me was the story itself. It seemed jagged and incomplete and either paid to little attention to detail or too much. I feel like such a heretic because after discovering Yates last year with EASTER PARADE, I felt an all-encompassing love for an author that I haven’t felt since Irving or the Rabbit series. A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE is the story of Bobby and Alice Prentice, a son and mother in New York City in the 1930s and 40s. When the novel begins, 18-year-old Bobby is taking an overnight pass from his base in Virginia to his mother’s midtown Manhattan walk-up. The year is 1944 and Bobby is soon to depart for the war in Europe and wants to see his mother before he goes. Alice, an older woman, an artist who makes ends meet by working in a lens factory for the war effort, is one of Yates’ more unique creations. She is part smothering hindrance to Bobby, part advocate and part narcissist who ignores her child’s well-being in pursuit of the perceived station she wants in life. A conflicting character indeed. The novel, which is bookended by a prologue and an epilogue, devotes two parts to Bobby’s adventures in Germany and a hefty middle chapter that tells the reader Alice and Bobby’s history, as they move from Greenwich Village to Scarsdale to Riverside to Texas and back. It’s the middle of the book, Alice’s journey, which fascinates and moves the reader. At least this reader. Bobby’s movements through Germany are unfocused and cluttered with peripheral characters that do not add up to a whole.Read more ›
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