Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Revolutionary Road: Beautiful, melancholy piece of writing

Revolutionary RoadRevolutionary Road by Richard Yates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an amazing piece of writing from Richard Yates. This book was published in 1961, but even though I was an English major and consider myself to be well read, I had never heard of it until I had heard there was to be a movie.

I read through a few of the other reviews, and two comments stood out to me:

"I'd like to build a home in some of these sentences. Something with a veranda so I can sit out there with a drink and really look around and take the whole thing in."

"Richard Yates is a JD Salinger for adults."

This is a story of two hopelessly unhappy adults living in the suburbs with their two neglected children. Everything on the surface appears to be perfect, but the cracks underneath begin to break apart.

Yates might not have meant it this way, but I thought it was an excellent commentary on the complete lack of choices women had in the 1950s. A woman's whole existence revolved around being a wife and mother. April fell into this role because it was expected of her, but then she realized how miserable she was. And she didn't feel that she had any other choices.

It's also a social commentary on the shallowness of many people's lives, which revolve around possessions and inanities.

I had a hard time putting the book down, and it sat with me when I was not reading it. However, I was glad to be done with it because it was incredibly sad, and I'm not generally a sad person. That's why I didn't give it four stars.

For excellent writing, and if you are in a melancholy mood, I highly recommend Revolutionary Road.

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