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Yates Paul cover February's Book
Yates Paul, His Grand Flights, His Tootings
by James Baker Hall

As if negotiating the rapids of being 13 weren’t hard enough, the young hero of Yates Paul, His Grand Flights, His Tootings must also contend with the absence of his mother, whose death no one will talk to him about; his photographer father’s mysterious nighttime activities; and some twisted relationships and deep, dark secrets within the rest of the family. But in his father’s studio darkroom, he inhabits a world where he alone is in charge. And in a series of fantastic daydreams, he creates yet another world in which he accomplishes heroic deeds and wins the love of the woman of his dreams.

Both disturbing and hilarious, Yates Paul was the first published work for James Baker Hall, written when the author was 27. Hall has since become better known as a poet—he was named Kentucky’s Poet Laureate in 2001—and is an accomplished photographer. The novel reflects the poet’s playfulness with language, the photographer’s knowledge of darkroom techniques, and the artist’s reverence for the act of creation. Set in Hall’s hometown of Lexington (in his foreword, Ed McClanahan calls it “the quintessential Lexington novel”), it was published in 1963 to good reviews but poor distribution, neglected for decades, and then reprinted as something of a rediscovered classic in 2002.


Watch the program

Card catalog entry from the Library of Congress

Blurbs from the book jacket

Amazon.com information page

Barnes and Noble information page


James Baker Hall
James Baker Hall
1935-2009

Video interview by bookclub host Bill Goodman, 2/6/03

KET’s Living by Words features Hall and four other Kentucky writers who attended the University of Kentucky. The site includes a timeline of all five writers’ lives, a profile, an interview, a page of photos by James Baker Hall, and more links.


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