Revolutionary Road

I finished Revolutionary Road last week but it's taken me this long to actually process enough of what I read to write anything about it. Not necessarily in a bad way, but this is probably the farthest thing from uplifting you could find in the world of modern literary fiction.

The plot is relatively uncomplicated: Frank and April Wheeler get married young, have children, move to the suburbs of New York City to raise their family, and spend every spare minute they have disdainful of suburban life. The typical, normal family lifestyle is so... beneath them. You can see where this is going -- the two find themselves unhappy, trapped in a lifestyle they never chose and never truly wanted. But how does one break out of this? And perhaps more importantly, if you do break out of it, how do you maintain your identity? Do you have one to begin with, or is it all pretend?

I don't need to elaborate on these questions much more than to say that Yates does not paint a happy picture of married suburban life, at least not for the Wheelers. But despite the absolute melancholy that settles upon the reader, clinging on us like a mink stole in August, Yates' prose is sharp, clear and insightful. He captures the essence of relationships, the difference between love and mere admiration, the intricacies of motherhood and marriage - all in the minute details of every day life.

What is more, Yates has a firm grasp on the inner monologues of his characters. They are ever present, but never bulky. They lend only further insight into each character, furthering our understanding of their absolute failure to communicate their inner selves to anyone (what a happy thought). His dialogue, like his characters' thoughts, is natural and graceful.

Bottom line: Revolutionary Road offers what one can only hope is an unrealistic portrayal of the lives we choose - or do not choose - to lead, and the impacts of these choices. An excellent read, but only if you are in the mood for a downer.


As a side note, the movie is actually a decent adaptation of the book, although the many friends I've spoken to have not been fans.

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