This is a book that, over the years, has come up again and again as a book that a number of novelists have cited as one of the pivotal books in their reading development. I really wanted to get it under my belt before the onslaught of movie previews came out for it this fall. It is a brutal and aggressively critical but empathetic look at middle class suburban life. Published in 1961 and set in 1955, it certainly has a bit of a dated feel to it: what was clearly shockingly critical and revelatory at the time does not quite have the same effect today--many others have followed Yates' lead and carried on. Yet, still, the novel has an incredibly powerful punch. If you read this merely as a commentary on society, the novel does not quite have the thread you would think it needs. But it is actually Tragedy (capital T intended). Every small point early in the book is groundwork for what is to come. No character is safe from the author's harsh view of the world, nor are they abandoned in that world--they are all given their due sense of purpose and entitlement. It is touching and appalling. It is hard to recommend something this unpleasant and bleak. But here I am saying: get your high ball glass, fill it three fingers high, hold it tight, and dive into this book.