In a previous post, I touched on an aspect of Yates’ prose that is quite remarkable, namely, his great gift of making effortless transitions. There’s an additional aspect worthy of comment. Yates is a master of discrepancy. In an offline email to me, Sasha Martinez says, “Yates is so bleak, so seemingly hopeless, so grave with his final judgment of the world. Everyone’s flawed and disillusioned….” True, true. But here comes the jolt; here comes the mighty discrepancy: Yates’ prose is flawless. He harbors no illusions about his characters or their situations and motivations. That’s an amazing thing to consider. How he creates a bleak pattern of failed ambition from such tightly woven prose! Really, it’s one the the great wonders of the world. Here’s another jolt. Yates elegantly represents the profound discrepancy between the way things are and the pictures we have of them — in our wallets, on our walls, in our minds. Like the Easter parade photograph from which the novel gets its name, we hope that our images of things, the illusions we hold dear, “can be mounted and framed and treasured forever.” But life so often goes to tatters. And the visions and dreams we have of the world and of our place in the world intensify our sorrow and bitter regret.
dreams, sorrow, and bitter regret