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Revolutionary Road Paperback – Apr 25 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 2 Reprint edition (April 25 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375708448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375708442
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #98,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The rediscovery and rejuvenation of Richard Yates's 1961 novel Revolutionary Road is due in large part to its continuing emotional and moral resonance for an early 21st-century readership. April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.

Yates's incisive, moving, and often very funny prose weaves a tale that is at once a fascinating period piece and a prescient anticipation of the way we live now. Many of the cultural motifs seem quaintly dated--the early-evening cocktails, Frank's illicit lunch breaks with his secretary, the way Frank isn't averse to knocking April around when she speaks out of turn--and yet the quiet desperation at thwarted dreams reverberates as much now as it did years ago. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the exacting cost of chasing the American dream. --Jane Morris,

From Library Journal

"So much nonsense has been written on suburban life and mores that it comes as a considerable shock to read a book by someone who seems to have his own ideas on the subject and who pursues them relentlessly to the bitter end," said LJ's reviewer (LJ 2/1/61) of this novel of unhappy life in the burbs. It is reminiscent of the popular film American Beauty in its depiction of white-collar life as fraught with discontent. Others have picked up on this theme since, but Yates remains a solid read.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
THE FINAL DYING SOUNDS of their dress rehearsal left the Laurel Players with nothing to do but stand there, silent and helpless, blinking out over the footlights of an empty auditorium. Read the first page
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gulley Jimson on Oct. 28 2003
Format: Paperback
Reading the praise for this book actually made me less inclined to read it. Another unmasking of the banality of the suburbs and the bland conformity of the 50s didn't strike me as particularly appealing or necessary. Both of those things have been unmasked so often that I wonder why anyone bothers with either; there's nothing left to expose.
The choice of target is also a little unfair: first, hypocrisy and small-mindedness are not localized in the suburbs to the extent that authors and filmmakers seem to think. If a writer deliberately populates his story with caricatured materialistic bourgeois, then he shouldn't expect it to be a legitimate criticism of the age. In any case, if an audience can separate themselves too easily from the people being described, the book has no sting - like American Beauty had no sting. A real work of art should hurt a little.
But Revolutionary Road was not what I expected from the reviews. Yates knows all of the pitfalls of the standard send-up of the middle class: the main characters in his story are not the usual suburban types, but people who consider themselves better than the dull people in their neighborhood; they mock the people that we, as readers, are so used to mocking, and become our surrogates.
The real theme of this book is much deeper, and it transcends the era and even the plot of the book: what do people do when they are intelligent and spirited enough not to be satisfied with the conformity and blandness of their surroundings, but lack the drive to ever escape mediocrity, because they are, fundamentally, much more a part of their environment than they imagine?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BeijingEr on Oct. 14 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This movie is down-right depressive. The book, according to some reviews, is a bore. I'd say when it is super depressive, squabbling from beginning to end, with everyone showing no interest to no one else, that's where it's successful. The couple is deeply trapped in a rut, unable to set themselves free. I don't know if that's true or not in the 1950s, but it seems true here for many in the 2010s. Everything seemed right for them to stay put: a good life, a beautiful house, couple of kids, well-paid and secured career, and friendly neighbors and associates. All seemed unrealistic for them to dump all of that and move to Paris in an attempt to save them from endless recriminations. So they stayed for the tragic end.
Bore. But I felt it. It's telling us what to do. I hesitated long in the same situation. Now I see my future clearly. I am in the same rut they were struggling in, hopeless. When everything seemed right, everything was actually wrong. It takes true courage to do everything wrong, just to set things right again.
The rut we are in is: me and my wife both have to work to keep the house. No matter how comfy the house may be, that's not right. After 40 hours' work, all we are capable of feeling is tiredness and bore; all we have time for is replenishing the refrigerator and attack some long procrastinated chore. In the meantime, all money is pouring into the bills: big leaking holes never got patched up. Where do we see ourselves in 10 years' time? Same old s*** and nothing gets improved.
My happiest time in life was when I was renting a small room and working casually. There were no bills. $300 rent includes everything from internet to parking space, and every half a year, car insurance, that's it. I had plenty of time, leisurely hobbies and sense of freedom.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda Oskam on July 19 2004
Format: Paperback
April and Frank Wheeler are around thirty and live in a suburb in Connecticut. They have a nice house, Frank has a job that is not too demanding and they have two small kids, so in essence all a couple can wish. Except, that they are not happy at all: April has not become the actress she wanted to be, they consider their neighbours and friends to be narrow-minded and they have fights over small matters that become so big that it is practically impossible to cope with it. In a last attempt to escape April decides that the family will move to Europe: she will work and Frank will finally have time to develop his talents. Frank does not exactly want to go, but he does not know how to tell his wife. And so the family heads for disaster without anybody noticing or knowing what to do about it.
This book was written in 1961, was nominated for big prizes together with such classics as Catch-22 and was forgotten after that. It is really a very modern book: the dreams and expectations of "the common" people have not changed much in all those years and the way in which Frank and April react and interact is only too recognizable. At times this book really hurts. You would like to shout to them: "Listen to each other!" "Don't fight over marginal subjects!" A good book that deserves to be rediscovered.
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Format: Paperback
The Laurel Players is an amateur theater group with high hopes of establishing a loftier cultural standard in their Connecticut suburb, but their short-lived attempt to put on a play is an utter failure. This sets the tone for the rest of the book, and the author's exploration of the themes of social aspirations, the desire the project oneself, and role-playing to meet or consciously balk social expectations.

Like the Laurel Players, everyone in the story knows that they are merely putting on a performance. They resent the trappings of middleclass life. Frank and April Wheeler get together with friends Shep and Milly Campbell to drink and put on a veneer of sophisticated and jaded ennui as they rail at the failure of the American dream and its lack of "authenticity." So long as they can scoff at society and speak of it with derision, they can remain above it and be untouched by it. But no one really remains untouched or unaffected.

The story is told from Frank's perspective and he is the master of play-acting and self-image. Yates adeptly uses imagery to convey this. One of the prevalent images is that of mirrors. Frank is constantly checking his reflection in the mirror and adjusting his expression so that it reflects what he wants to project. The book also contains extensive descriptions of Frank's clothes and how he feels in them. Apparently, in this case, the clothes DO make the man. Frank literally fashions himself into the image he wants to project, always conscious that his projection in insincere. He feels that his scorn is heroic, that he can see things to which others are blind, he can understand things that are beyond their comprehension. His understanding, however, is limited to the extent to which he can control his world.
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