Twenty years after it was first published, here is an essay I wrote in The Atlantic about one of my favorite writers-- Richard Yates.
If you haven't read his work, check out his harrowing Revolutionary Road. Or if you would rather start with a shorter piece, try the story "Liars in Love" from the collection of the same name.
As I stated back in 2001, "at the heart of Yates's work [lies] the beauty that can arise from the rendering of sadness and desolation. It is a beauty that derives not from writing-school mannerisms or precious prose but from the sense that truth—absolute, unadulterated, almost unbearable—is being communicated."