A Good School: A Novel
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Richard Yates, who died in 1992, is today ranked by many readers, scholars, and critics alongside such titans of modern American ficiton as Updike, Roth, Irving, Vonnegut, and Mailer.
In this work, he offers a spare and autumnal novel about a New England prep school. At once a meditation on the twilight of youth and an examination of America's entry into World War II, A Good School tells the stories of William Grove, the quiet boy who becomes an editor of the school newspaper; Jack Draper, a crippled chemistry teacher; and Edith Stone, the schoolmaster's young daughter, who falls in love with most celebrated boy in the class of 1943.
talked and he’d fix them a couple of drinks; then he’d look at her long and hard and move up close and kiss her on the mouth. She had worn her blue jersey dress today, and he knew how that particular fabric felt sliding under his hands against her back; it felt like sex itself. And maybe she’d laugh and try to fend him off but he knew she liked it in the afternoons – they had agreed long ago that afternoons were even better than nights – and he would take her upstairs and have her. He would have
had a decent chin; even the most terrible girls at Miss Blair’s had decent chins, so there was nothing to do but drop the hairbrush and the hand mirror on her bureau and pace the floor of her room with both small fists at her temples. On other nights the mirror was more agreeable. Then she was sometimes able to see a romantic, even a mysterious girl there, a girl who didn’t mind letting a heavy lock of hair fall over half her face because throwing it back only emphasized the sparkle in the deep
the Merchant Marine.” “I know. Do they train you for that?” “Oh, not really. There’s little or no training. You sign on and you ship out; that’s about it.” After a moment he said “I tried to enlist in all the regular branches, but they turned me down.” “I know,” she said. “I heard that too. Everything you do becomes common knowledge very quickly around here; I’m sure you’re aware of that.” And he blushed, just as if he were an ordinary boy, as if he weren’t President of the Student Council
with Alice. He missed her; he wanted her, and at the same time he knew he would spend the fall seeking graceful ways to extricate himself. There was no future in a thing like this. “Ah, God, how I missed you,” she said on their first night together. “I thought you’d never, ever come back. Did you miss me?” “I thought of you all the time.” But now it was November, and common sense made clear that it couldn’t go on. She was nice, but she wanted too much. He was alone in his apartment, changing
I know. I think it’s Christianity. I think it’s Jesus.” And so he had resolved to become a man of the cloth. I haven’t seen or heard from him in thirty years. I corresponded with Hugh Britt until about 1950, often writing two or three drafts of my letters to improve the prose. Though he hadn’t talked much about it in our last months at school, Britt had been accepted into a Navy program called the V-12 that allowed bright students to enroll as Naval personnel in civilian universities, where they