Jan 1, 2010

Review: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307454789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307454782
  • Source: bought my own copy
Richard Yates is one of my discoveries this year, and Revolutionary Road is hitting the top five of my favorite reads in 2009. I finished the book two weeks ago and deliberately procrastinated with the review because I intended to participate in Sasha's Richard Yates Reading Challenge 2010. Unfortunately, I'm not participating--but since R.R. is the first on the list to be read in January, I decided to tag along and review it now.

Words fail me to write a decent review. I simply don't know where to start. Besides, what can I say that hadn't been said before? Reading about Frank's and April's quarrels and occasional physical fights felt like peeping through your neighbor's window. You want to turn your head, but you are compelled to watch and listen to their mutual accusations and insults. Both of them feel they don't live the lives they hoped for when they were young and free. But whose fault is it? It's not about betraying each other, but about betraying the people they thought they were. To quote from the book cover--they live their lives constantly on the assumption that greatness is around the corner.

 I saw a whole other future. I can't stop seeing it.(April Wheeler)

When they grow tired of waiting, tired of each other, escaping to France seems like a perfect way to start over. An unplanned pregnancy disrupts the plan terminally. And as you wait to find out if they are leaving or not, you miss to see the hopelessness of their plan, and the vigor with which they cling to it doesn't allow you to accept any other possibility.

Hopeless emptiness. Now you've said it. Plenty of people are onto the emptiness, but it takes real guts to see the hopelessness. (J. Givings)

The end was so unpredictable that I found myself yelling at the book. Believe me, it was there all the time. But it just bowls you over when it actually happens.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Revolutionary Road is brutally honest and unbelievably realistic, but at the same time so easy to read. Yates presents a terribly painful story in a very simple, straightforward way. His writing is superb. Though set in the 50's, Revolutionary Road applies to every marriage I know--including my own. Emptiness, failed expectations and crushed dreams always hurt the same.
This could have so easily been me.

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