7/7/09

A Good School


This novel was recommended to me to add to my book list. I've never read anything by Richard Yates before, but I did see last year's Revolutionary Road which was based on another book by Yates. Vonnegaut called Revolutionary Road the Great Gatsby of his generation; in that case, A Good School was Yates's Catcher in the Rye.

After reading the first few chapters, my first reaction to the novel was that it was unnecessarily dirty. The French teacher at the private school is having an affair with the wife of another instructor who has been crippled by polio and the narrator William Grove is hazed by a group of boys who catch him in the hallway, shave his pubic hair, and give him a hand job. Already the beginning clashed with the title. But by the end, this really is the point of the novel. The novel finishes with the school closing, Grove being in the last graduating class.

Like Catcher in the Rye the book chronicles the lives of boys at a private school that was started by a wealthy woman who wanted "a school that might be just the kind of school for boys that might just be the kind of school I'd have wanted if I'd been a boy." Unfortunately the school was far from that. Instead the novel is about teenage boys doing what teenage boys do: worrying about their social status at the school, dreaming about girls, and romanticizing war.

The Afterword tells briefly about which boys died during WWII and what happened with their lives. Immediately after closing, the school is turned into a home for veterans blinded during war

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