thing. You really sec nothing else at firstnglance, so well is the picture composed.nThey occupy the precise center of thenphotograph. And why not? The eyesnafter all are the windows of the soul, andnoh what a soul we have here. The lightingnis perfect, the shadows around the eyesnincredibly deep and dark so that the eyesnthemselves shine out by contrast. Andnwhat eyes, warm and knowing—butnhow pained they are, as if they had seenn”. . . as fine as anything Yates has written.’nfar too much. Still we see that the pain isnnot for Yates but for us. And though thenpain they have seen might have madenanother pair of eyes want to stop seeing,nthese eyes are still willing to see. But nownthey see by their own interior light so thatnthey shine out even from those deep,ndeep shadows.nOne last detail. Mr. Yates does notnface the camera head on. The right sidenof his head is angled slighdy back andnaway from the camera. This does a curiousnthing to his right eye. That feye appearsnto be the expression of a whollynseparate part of Mr. Yates’s mind. Theneye seems a bit more open, brighter anyway,nthan the deep, sad, left eye. Theneyebrow appears to sweep up and back,nalmost, but not quite, as if he were raisingnit for comic effect. If the left eye is thensad, compassionate eye focused lovinglynon us and all our troubles, the right eye isnthe laughing, ironical, all-knowing eyenwhich sees the whole world at once andnknows the vanity of all things. But theneyes do not clash. It is as if the ironic rightneye, precisely because it sees all, validatesnthe compassion of the left eye. Yes, ournsorrows do matter even while Yates, whonis no mere saint but a philosopher also,nrealizes that we are but dust in the wind.nIn short this is the picture of a mannwho has practiced all his life to be a pompousnbore—the type who sees himself asncompassionate and understanding andnwho spends his life dispensing generalizedncompassion and the second-ratenconventional wisdoms of his own age. InnYates’s case these are dispensed in storiesncalculated to be devoid of any interest ornexcitement so that the narrator can retainnhis twin poses of philosophical detachmentnand—because dull stories have nonvillains—compassion for everything thatnmoves.nJLates’s stories aren’t really shortnstories at all. They are outlines for failednnovels masquerading as vignettes. Theyn—Si’iv York Times Book Renewnended up as longish short storiesnbecause, like so many contemporarynwriters, Yates hasn’t enough patience tonget to the good parts—i.e. the partsnwhere the author gets to beat home hisntrite profundities with a sledgehammer.nBut Yates doesn’t seem to realize that byntreating a short story as a condensednnovel he loses everything that can benwonderfiil about this neglected genre.nThus he tries to develop, usually throughnbanal microcosms, the entire life storiesnof his characters. He is ignorant, ofncourse, of the simple truth that a goodnshort-story writer uses a compact plot tonreveal just those few essences of characternthat burn themselves into the reader’snheart and make both character and storynworth remembering.n”Joseph I’m So Tired” is about thennarrator’s mother, who is an art bum: shenis divorced, living on alimony with herntwo children in Greenwich Village andnpretending to be a sculptress. What isnsupposed to be the plot involves her effortsnto be the first sculptor to do FranklinnRoosevelt’s bust. She succeeds, but thenwhole incident absorbs about four pagesnscattered through a 3 3-page story whichnmeanders on and on after the plot isnresolved. There is an overfull cast of charactersnwho, because they are shamefullynmanipulated by the author, appear overdeveloped.nThey all reveal themselves innone or more subplots, like trite tragediesnof adolescence or adult self-deception.nFor instance, a child impales a goldfishnwith an arrow while trying to show hownnnmuch he knows about goldfish, and thennthe character disappears. It is possible tonwrite a wonderful story about a child accidentlynkilling a pet. But if the incidentntakes only a few paragraphs, after whichnboth killer and goldfish disappear forever,nwe suspect the author of manipulatingnour feelings to make us thinknsomething is happening. But nothingnever does happen, and even more important,nno one ever changes. What’s worse,nthe fact that the story never goesnanywhere seems to be deliberate. The interplaynof self-deception and ennuinseems to be Yates’s big message.nThe best of the lot is “Trying Out fornthe Race,” best in this case meaning thatna failed attempt to make something happennis better than no attempt at all. Andivorced mother who supports herselfnand her nine-year-old daughter by writingnnewspaper features decides to share anhouse with a friend who is also divorcednand living with her own 13-year-oldndaughter and nine-year-old son. That’snthe plot: twenty-seven pages about thendivorcee’s postdivorce love life, throughnwhich we come to know that she is honestnwith herself: “Self-deception is an illness,”nwe are told. Then we meet thenfriend, who is in advanced stages of “selfdeception.”nRust Hills, who has a head on hisnshoulders, once explained that a shortnstory is different from a sketch because “anshort story tells of something that happenednto someone … A story … isndynamic rather than static: the samenthing cannot happen again. A characternis capable of being moved, and is moved,nno matter in how slight a way.” It is preciselynmovement which is lacking innYates’s dreary and didactic characternsketches. And if the characters aren’tnmoved the reader won’t be. A short storynwriter does work within rather confiningnlimits. About the most he can do is tonsharpen the reader’s vision a bit by dwellingnon those few unique aspects of ancharacter which cause him to do a certainnthing in a certain way at a certain time.nBut this is sufficiently interesting bothnfor lovers of stories and students ofn•IM^^HHS?nJttly/Attgustl98Sn