Archive for the What next? Category

Finishing the PhD & asking for help.

Posted in What next? on June 29, 2010 by kateonyates

Well, my journey towards my first goal is all but over; having handed in my thesis in February and had my Viva in May (in the UK everyone has to have a Viva), and having passed, I will graduate in July.

It’s been a long and instructive journey, right up to the end. The ‘minor corrections’ I have had to make have shown me how poor my own writing is and that is a shock frankly. I split infinitives with alacrity. I repeat myself. I switch tenses half way through a paragraph. I feel so ashamed.

The good news is that these are minor things, apparently, and my writing and research on Richard Yates’s work went down a storm – so I was told. The first question I was asked in my Viva was what did I now think of Yates’s work, three and a half years after starting the PhD. I had no hesitation in saying that I still pick up Eleven Kinds of Loneliness for pure enjoyment and to remind myself what a great writer I have had the privilege of working with.

So that’s that. A chapter of a life complete and I do feel a sense of achievement though inevitably I wish I could have done it better – fewer split infinitives for one thing! Now, what you may well ask: perhaps I will try to turn it into a book. There should be interest bearing in mind schools and universities are teaching Yates.

This is where you come in. If you are a student (or a teacher) and have been dropping in on my blog, could you let me know what your school is (wherever it is): the name, the place and what you have been studying in the way of Yates. If I need proof he is being taught the more of you that do that the more proof I will have. I won’t publish your responses unless you want me to. I know DeWitt Henry has been teaching Yates at Emerson College in Boston and I know he is being taught at Ipswich School in the UK and at Sherborne School also in the UK but you will agree that that is hardly proof of anything. So please get back to me!

Off to nurse a bad back now but I look forward to hearing from you all………

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Life after the film

Posted in What next? on February 25, 2009 by kateonyates

I’ve been quiet recently, but not idle. In my study at least there is a sense of dust having settled (sadly, literally as well as metaphorically).

The film is out there, reviewed countless times, watched by those who have never read any Yates and by thousands who have and everyone has an opinion. As my blog shows, I’ve snapped and barked at the heels of those who seem to me not to have understood aspects of Yates’s work, often unfairly since with a little distance, it was usually Mendes’s work they were analysing and not Yates. And even then I’m often unfair.  The protective/defensive response is such a strong reaction when it comes to Yates: we all feel we ‘own’ him and we all want him to be fully appreciated. I know, I’ve been one of the worst.

But time is passing and Yates’s work is in every book shop and that’s just fantastic. The film has added scores of readers some of whom will go on and read beyond Revolutionary Road and discover what an amazing short story writer he was too.

I’m back at work on my thesis trying to write a draft of my last chapter. It’s a struggle at the moment. I got side-tracked by the jamboree. I need to re-acquaint myself with Cold Spring Harbor and A Special Providence and so many of the stories in order to delve into Yates’s views about relationship – about childhood, motherhood, sad lonely fatherhood, about sex and impotence and finally what it is to be a man (oh god!).

So that’s where I am at the moment. Keep your comments coming. They always interest me and often help.