A Good School by Richard Yates

By Richard Yates

A bittersweet, haunting exploration of teen and the effect of war

At fifteen, Terry Flynn had the face of an angel and the physique of an ideal athlete...
Set in a small boarding institution at the eve of America's access into global warfare , an exceptional university tells the tale of William Grove, the frightened teen attempting to slot in; the betrayed alcoholic, Jack Draper; and Edith Stone, the teacher's daughter, who falls in love with the preferred boy in school.

Instantly acclaimed on its first book, peopled with a few of Richard Yates's so much memorable characters, this delicate, spare masterpiece is a haunting meditation at the twilight of teen, and an unforgettable description of the impression of conflict at the lives of an blameless new release

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Sample text

He liked that house, and cried when his father moved them here, to the empty middle of the country. Still he hesitates, unwilling to climb. It was not just his father’s presence at the top of it that made this unlit narrow stairway so alarming a prospect to him as a child. Something definite seemed to lurk here, where the darkness was darker than anywhere else in the house, something unseen yet clammily palpable, of which even yet, in broadest of broad daylight, he seems to detect a lingering, cobwebby wisp.

When the children were small they called her La, and still do. Adam is Pa and she is La. She wonders if there is ill-intent in their keeping on with these pet-names. She fears she has not been a good mother. She did her best with Adam but poor Petra was too much for her. Having Petra was the start of all her troubles. For nine months she was sick, vomiting all day and not able to keep anything down, until in the end she could not swallow even her own spit; with a shudder she recalls the nurse taking the glinting nickel dish of slime and floating froth out of her trembling hands and emptying it into the washbasin.

Hardly. Anyway, his father rarely addresses anyone by name; names are something he does not think it necessary to take regard of or remember. He takes a breath and ascends the stairs as he always does, at a soft run, head down, knees working like elbows. The stairs groan under him as if in outrage. In the room he wonders why the curtains are shut. At first he can make out nothing but a jumble of standing shapes, vague, dust-coloured, which give the impression of hooded sentinels keeping silent vigil.

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