October 25, 2011
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Frank and April Wheeler are your average couple in the suburbs. He has a job in the city, she's a stay at home mom, and they have a couple of kids. The difference is they both know that they deserve something better, that they're not the same as their suburban counterpoints. They make big plans to move to Europe, where April will be the breadwinner and Frank will find what he wants out of life. All they have to do is sell their house and notify Frank's job, and April has to find her job of course. But things rarely go the way they want them to.
I didn't like any of the characters in this book. I was completely unsympathetic to Frank and April. In fact, I thought they were a perfect couple of narcissists. So they thought they were too good for suburbia and deserved better, boo hoo. Maybe I'm just mean tonight but I honestly couldn't wait for the book to be over so I wouldn't have to read about them anymore. And because they were the main characters the rest of the characters were written as simpering idiots and weak people in comparison to them. They were probably actually very charming people.
So maybe I just belong in Suburbia as I thought they really were pretentious characters. And I guess that might have been Yates goal and the whole book was about that general culture, but its not exactly a compelling topic for me. In fact, I actually found the book pretty boring. The one good feature is that it gets a little more exciting in the end, although in a sad depressing way, but at least something happens instead of the characters talking about making things happen. And in a detached way I can say it was written with a clear voice. Yates has a nice flow of words despite his topic being uninteresting.
Obviously I didn't really like it. It won't quite make the one star rating of books I've read this year, but it came pretty close.