Revolutionary Road came with such expectations for me. Richard Yates appeared to be something of a literary darling: quite a favorite amongst book bloggers and respected by his contemporaries, even if his name was a little less known to the general reading populace. Other than those vague notions, the only thing I knew about the story were the bits and pieces I could remember from seeing the movie trailer once or twice back in 2008. Now, having read (and loved) the book, I am interested in seeing the film, just to see how it compares. I'm very happy that I hadn't seen it before reading the book, (so that I was able to get the full thrill-of-discovery experience,) although I can't imagine the movie having anywhere near the amount of detail and insight the book had...even if you have seen the movie I'd still recommend reading the book.
The premise is simple, and I don't think that anything is spoiled by knowing it. Frank and April are a young, disillusioned married couple living in mid-century American suburbia. The magic in the book comes from the viewpoint on the era, the readability and lightness of the prose, and the incredible characterization. You may not identify with Frank or April, but if you don't understand who they are...let's just say that it won't be Richard Yates' fault. However, having some life experience under your belt before reading the book will go far in developing a connection with the story being told.
Richard Yates provides a perfect example of how a literary work doesn't need to be lofty, arrogant, or overly symbolic in order to be well done. Here is a book with fascinating characters, insightful prose, and a sprightly pace that will leave you thinking and longing for more. Thankfully, there is more Richard Yates to be had. You can be sure I'll be searching it out.
a quote from page 332:
The whole point of crying was to quit before you cornied it up. The whole point of grief itself was to cut it out while it was still honest, while it still meant something. Because the thing was so easily corrupted: let yourself go and you started embellishing your own sobs, or you started telling about the Wheelers with a sad, sentimental smile and saying Frank was courageous, and then what the hell did you have?Title: Revolutionary Road
Author: Richard Yates
Published: Vintage 2000 (orig. 1961)
My Rating: 5 stars