- Series: Vintage Classics
- Paperback: 338 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Books (April 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 009956064X
- ISBN-13: 978-0099560647
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 434 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,914,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Revolutionary Road (Vintage Classics) Paperback – April 1, 2011
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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"The literary discovery of the year... It's as brilliantly nuanced as Updike's Rabbit sequence, and as sad as anything by Fitzgerald" -- Nick Hornby * Guardian Books of the Year * "Here is more than fine writing; here is what, added to fine writing, makes a book come immediately, intensely and brilliantly alive...a masterpiece" -- Tennesse Williams "I hand out copies of Revolutionary Road to anyone who will take them...one of the most moving and exact portraits of suburbia in all of American literature" -- David Hare * Observer * "The Great Gatsby of my time... One of the best books by a member of my generation" -- Kurt Vonnegut "The best novel ever written about the death of the American dream" -- Kate Atkinson * Daily Telegraph *
About the Author
Richard Yates was born in 1926 in Yonkers, New York.After serving in the US Army during the Second World War, he worked as a publicity writer for the Remington Rand Corporation, and for a brief period in the sixties as a speech writer for Senator Robert Kennedy. His prize-winning stories first appeared in 1953 and his first novel, Revolutionary Road, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1961.He is the author of eight other works, including the novels A Good School, The Easter Parade and Disturbing the Peace, and two collections of short stories, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and Liars in Love.Richard Yates was twice divorced and the father of three daughters. He died in 1992. Lionel Shriver was born in the United States and now lives in London. She is the author of The Female of the Species, Checker and the Derailleurs, The Bleeding Heart , Ordinary Decent Criminals, A Perfectly Good Family, Double Fault, The Post-Birthday World, So Much for That and The New Republic. Her seventh novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005.
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Revolutionary Road. Frank and April Wheeler do all that society has asked of them. They are middle-class. They buy a house in the burbs. They have children. They are subscribers to the American Dream. Both are conformists. He has a monotonous job, a monotonous commute and she suffocates in taking care of the house and minding the children. They are miserable; they come to loathe one another. They are frustrated failures, unhappy with their lives. The Wheelers are domestic combatants, skilled at verbal and physical abuse. They aspire and they reach for more because they feel entitled, but neither Frank nor April has the will or impetus to effect change. They have a vision, they have a plan that they fail to execute. Their antecedent, Jay Gatsby, had charisma, energy and a romantic imagination in his destructive quest for Daisy Buchanan, and dies a tragic figure, having been blinded by his obsession. Gatsby was murdered in the end, but he was a living suicide inside an unsustainable dream. Death had saved him.
Death does come to Revolutionary Road, but there is no overt tragedy in its wake. A clueless character, a stagnant person remains unchanged. The American Dream is flawed, dead at the end of the street Yates named Revolutionary Road, but the people doing the dreaming were dangerous, dull, and unimaginative. In a word, unending materialism and a lack of self-awareness lead to narcissism and nihilism. Readers today are accustomed to, if not desensitized to, suburban malaise, but the psychological portrait of the Wheelers in Revolutionary Road remains a very uncomfortable and visceral read. Yates paints a portrait of devastation, using simple words and layering the details, page after page, letting them sneak up on the reader.
Easter Parade is a tale told in the same key, except the main characters are the Grimes sisters, Emily and Sarah. Parade is an unhappy story told through brilliant writing that is effortless as it captures four decades of Americana, the one that Norman Rockwell didn’t paint. This is a less violent book, but just as devastating as Revolutionary Road.
Yates wrote from his own life. He did ‘all the right things,’ yet success eluded him. He was married (twice) and had three daughters. Revolutionary Road, his debut novel, was nominated for the National Book Award along with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 but lost to Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer. He received a Guggenheim, wrote speeches for RFK, and scraped by with teaching positions and the largesse of friends. All the literary praises and rewards did little for Yates. Yates would experience several shattering mental breakdowns. His one-time student and lifelong supporter and admirer, Richard Price, wrote:
Richard Yates was a magnificent wreck, a chaotic and wild-hearted presence, a tall but stooped smoke-cloud of a man, Kennedyesque in dress and manner, gaunt and bearded with hung eyes and a cigarette-slaughtered voice…
Yates died a bitter and sick man in 1992, aged 66, not from a daily 4-pack-a-day cigarette habit that rewarded him with emphysema, or from drink, but from complications arising from a hernia surgery.
Much has been written about the book and the story. All I can add is that this is one only three books I can recall that has moved me to tears, despite my knowing exactly what was going to happen (thanks to the aforementioned movie version).
The Easter Parade: Heartbreaking. Yates' characters move through life realistically. One can see the heartbreak coming and wish it couls be avoided, but of course it isn't.
Eleven Kinds of Loneliness: Perfectly collected short stories reminiscent of Raymond Carver's works in their depth and profundity.