READ ✓ Revolutionary Road

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In the hopeful 1950s Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model American couple bright beautiful talented with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs Perhaps they married too young and star. I let out a whoop of laughter on about page 180 when I finally figured Frank Wheeler out You see Frank spent most of his youth a scattered bashful schmuck Then after WWII as a Columbia student and Village dweller he started getting laid all the time thanks to a theatrically brooding pseudo intellectual schtick Nevermind that Frank is essentially a glib blowhard talented in no artistic way he's one of those tiresome people who whine about Conformity as if America invented it threaten expatriation etc but the sexual success of his hip disaffected persona was the only success or strength he had ever really known so it became the core around which he wrapped his entire being and identity That's fine we all need illusions and if they get you laid even better but the hitch is that April his wife and the last of his conuests and the woman with whom he now lives in the suburbs actually half believes him thinks that he's a noble soul who needs the rarefied air of foreign capitals in order to flower This is hilarious because Frank is nothing if not the standard guy L’homme moyen sensuel his dissatisfaction with his life which he pretentiously blames on the conformity and boredom of 1950s America is actually pretty well mollified once he gets a promotion at work and starts screwing a secretary; the idea of moving to Paris the better to become a 'nicotine stained Jean Paul Sartre kinda guy' vanishes once he starts having sex; he affects a snooty disdain for his job but he's actually uite good at it and in heartbreaking scene toward the end when it's all too too late demonstrates that he kind of likes it But getting back to my whoop of laughter That laughter didn't diminish my esteem for the novel regardless of his characters Yates is a godlike stylist but for a while there I felt it played as a macabre farce than as a Tragic Laying Bare Of The Hollowness Of The American Dream Then the tragic gravity of the characters came rushing back in chapter 7 of part 3 when the narration switches to April's point of view and Yates starts hitting you where the last pages of 'The Great Gatsby' hit you I ended up with compassion for Frank I saw that his pose of superiority rises at least partly out of a desperate fear of ending up like his wilted used up working stiff of a father Frank and April were drifting lonely people who initially thought that one another looked like the kind of person the 'golden' boy the 'really first rate girl' who could whirl their lives into effortlessness and perfection and a final salvation from lifelong feelings of dread and inadeuacyjust as everyone else in the book thinks that the Wheelers LOOK LIKE that golden couple with the world at its feet and all problems solved Stendahl said 'beauty is the promise of happiness' That's it merely 'the promise' Yates is so elouent on how easy and how dangerous it is to theatricalize our lives He knows all the little gestures and poses with which we briefly and delusionally elevate flawed creatures into romantic figures

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Revolutionary RoadIs now about to crumble 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 selve. What a wise book Many rate it as depressing and yes it tells a very tragic story But at the same time it's also a tremendously funny book It's just that its humor stings because it's based in the most human of weaknesses Self rationalizationFrank and April Wheeler are the prototypical post WWII suburban couple happy on the outside endlessly frustrated on the inside But author Richard Yates isn't interested in just dissecting the suburbs Frank and April are painfully aware of their shallow surroundings but they've always tried to convince themselves that they're better than this life Their frustration mainfested in arguments that are painfully realistic and bitter comes from a sense that they should be doing that they should accomplish something with themselves But as the failed local theater production that opens the story points out they're also haunted by the fact that perhaps not only were they not meant to be great but they were never on the road to greatness in the first placeScene after scene crackles with familiarity There's the conversation with another couple that leads to awkward silence until the neighbors' troubles provide a desperately needed topic of discussion There's the description of how Frank came to get his job a dead on commentary on college graduates looking for financial stablity with little output And there's April's heartbreaking lament about the validation she hoped to find for herself in the real world and what she's found insteadIt's not that the Wheelers are unjustified in their decisions their backstories flesh out Frank's need not to be his blue collar father and April's desperate desire for a loving family But their attitudes toward facing the world are hopelessly compromised by their insecurity Neither is truly happy with themself and April's harebrained idea about moving to Paris is just an excuse to avoid the real issue It's not the suburbs that's draining the life from their marriage it's them In the end April realizes they were never really in love with each other just the idealized images they created for each other REVOLUTIONARY ROAD has enjoyed a cult reputation for decades but has often had a hard time gaining widespread acceptance I think the reason for this is because it's filled with truth the kind that makes people nod in recognition and wince in embarassment It achieves one of the highest goals of fiction It makes you uestion yourself and the world you live in It's not without hope even after the climactic tragedy life goes on It's just up to you to try and understand the book's lessons and figure out if there's anything you've learned

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READ ✓ Revolutionary Road ✓ In the hopeful 1950s Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model American couple bright beautiful talented with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early Maybe Frank's job is dull And April never saw herself as a housewife Yet they have always livedTed a family too early Maybe Frank's job is dull And April never saw herself as a housewife Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner But now that certainty. Really Tough LoveYates has a reputation as a chronicler of the smug years of post WWII America Perhaps But as an artist he is much than a period sociologist Yates’s understanding of the folie a deux which we call marriage is profound The reasons two people find each other attractive are buried in experiences of which neither is conscious much less rationally able to think about To call such attraction love is euphemistic It may be at best an attempt to redeem or complete oneself that might eventually develop into love but only if the underlying reasons are resolved sufficiently and replaced Subseuent decisions to bring children into such an indeterminate situation are likely based on eually fatuous thinking It seems amazing therefore that the survival rates of marriage are as high as they are and that of us are not functionally psychoticYates raises the perennial if not eternal uestion of the nature and implications of commitment I recall the distinction made when I was in the services between making a contribution and making a commitment in one’s breakfast of bacon and eggs the chicken has made a contribution; the pig is decisively committed Does this anecdote express the reality or essential ethics of commitment Are the reasons for making commitments misguided or not relevant to a continuation of a commitment Do changed circumstances including improved awareness of motives abrogate the demands of previous commitments Can 'Til death us do part' be anything than irrational optimism and encouragementPersonal sovereignty is analogous to national sovereignty The implication would seem to be that treaties contracts agreements are never unconditional never intended as eternal There may be conseuences of non compliance with any of these but acceptance of conseuences is part of sovereignty the share out of community property loss of mutual friends increased psychological and social tensions; and of course the fate of the next generation The calculus of contract termination may be complex but doesn't seem to imply any absolute moral constraints On the other hand can what we believe to be considered judgment be anything than hapless struggleThe alternative to withdrawal of commitment is what seems to fascinate Yates We try to ‘work things out’ In order to deny or at least delay the possibility of broken commitment we tell each other stories Stories about the past and how we arrived at the present could prove therapeutic by uncovering unconscious reasons and reasoning But we tell stories about the future instead about alternatives lives in exotic locations doing interesting work with stimulating friends and colleagues The stories promote hope but little elseWe hope these ‘ideals’ can compensate for any originating defects But it’s likely that Yates is correct these ideals simply reinforce the power of the neuroses already in play A new script perhaps but the same denouement There is no way to anticipate the psychological baggage we take on with our partner The piper will be paid Pain is inevitable The issue is who pays and when Unambiguously happy endings are not within the range of the possible