Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Richard Yates - Revolutionary Road

From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. It's the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves. 

Comment: This was a book I picked, once again, for one of my book clubs. I've hard about it before, of course, in particular after the movie adaptation but there's been ages since I last saw a movie in the cinema, I don't live near one and the closest one is too faraway so I don't mind waiting. Still, this one never seemed that appealing to me. But the book was suggested to the club and it was the chosen one for February.

This is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, they're a young couple, with two children, living in the suburbs, in Revolutionary Road back in the 50s.
Frank has a dull job, April is a housewife with unfulfilled dreams and they have two couples as neighbors who are also part of their lives.

I can't say I was impressed by this book. It took me quite a while to get into it and the first pages were extremely boring to me.
The story wasn't very captivating. I guess it was more about the dullness of their lives although they were young than about what they were doing, but it was boring to go through all that. Then, Frank behaved like a man from the 50s here it was accepted that he could cheat on his wife. From that point of view, the fact he was doing something that was part of the culture of that time, that a married man could lead that life style, and he also said that somewhere in the story, from that alone the book was a portrait of how people would see life back then. And even more examples, of behavior many characters had and ways of thinking and acting were a close evidence of how things were. But to be honest, for me personally, infidelity and adultery in books isn't something I expect to enjoy or want to. In fact I stay away from those as much as I can. But the harm was done and I kept going because despite Frank's despicable character he was so unbelievable unlikable he bordered on almost comical for me, at times. Like when he tried to justify to himself it was OK to do as less as possible at work because it served him, was that guy for real?
April I liked more because she seemed stuck in a position she couldn't get away from and when she did, rank went behind her back and in a way got it from her. Still, this didn't excuse her attitude towards Shep, one of their neighbors. But in the end the scale balances positively for her side because she had to deal with things the way she was supposed to and Frank, once again, was the catalyst to her last action in the book, which made me quite sad because I know it happened a lot in real life back then, and even nowadays.
The secondary characters weren't that fun to follow. One or two might look like they showed some promise but the limits of what was expected in the 50s would stop them from a more radical attitude and despite understanding that, still it all looked rather slow.
In the end, I think the book was OK for me. It had a thing or two good enough to be interesting but balancing that with the rest of the book and the melancholy and the unmet expectations made the book seem too boring and unappealing overall.
After reading it, someone I know told me it was #47 on a list for the most depressing books. Well, I certainly understand why, after what looked like a promising life picture, how it all crumbled it's almost to unbelievable, thus quite depressing to look at.

No comments:

Post a Comment