The back of the book tells you that the protagonist has a good life, and yet is slowly finding it unbearable, and one day he tells his wife he’s not coming home. In a ‘typical’ Richard Yates book, this happens about half way. In Disturbing the Peace, however, that’s how it begins.
(I’ve read other reviews saying this was his worst book. I don’t think so — it’s just different.)
John Wilder sells advertising space for a magazine. He has his flings and his wife and son stay more or less quietly at home. When the novel opens, he’s just told his wife that he isn’t coming home. Ever. That sparks off a series of events that make you wince in empathy, even if none of the characters are particularly lovable.
The novel is essentially a downward spiral of an alcohol-fuelled early mid-life crisis that might or might not be outright insanity. I found it much darker than the other Yates novels I’ve read, but no less compelling. It appears that it’s the most autobiographical of his novels, which makes me sad.