Monday, April 20, 2009

Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates ------ 4 STARS

So about a year ago I heard about the book Revolutionary Road . Although this book was written about 50 years ago, I had not heard about it nor known anything about until recently. Coincidentally, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winselt made a rather big deal movie about the same book a bit less than a year ago. My point of these initial ramblings was that I was aware and already ready to read the book prior to the movie (note that I chose the older book cover rather than the new one with Leo and Kate on it ). I was not and am not one of those people who reads the book because the movie looked so good (well, there is the Godfather but whatever). I would like to see the movie after finishing the book though.

(On an useful side note, I am of the opinion the Leo DiCaprio has never made a film that is bad. In fact, quite the opposite, every one of his movies and even TV appearances are awesome. Now, there are probably a lot of guys out there who think he is just a pretty boy… which he is, at least that what the ladies tell me. But his movies are awesome… off the top of my head: The Departed – great; Catch Me if You Can – not bad; Titanic – awesome if you get past the love stuff; Gangs of New York – awesome; Blood Diamond – good; Basketball Diaries – cool; heck, he was even good when he was on Growing Pains as a kid. So my point is, Leo’s movies are pretty awesome and I defy anyone to attempt to argue that I am wrong).

Anyway, back to the review – the book is definitely worth a read if you have a chance. It’s fairly short, there’s a lot of interesting dialogue and for most readers of this blog (I know how who you 2 are) this book might make you think about your life right now. See, the book is basically about people settling down, following “society’s plan” and wondering if this (you know, normal conservative American life) is truly the best path or most purposeful life. The story is about Frank and April Wheeler, a married couple with two kids who move to the ‘burbs outside NYC. They buy the nice house with the picket fence, have the 2 kids, wife stays at home and does what wives do in the ‘50s. Of course, it’s not that easy. Both April and Frank want much more from life. They want to travel and believe in the land of Europe (France specifically) life would be oh so different…rosy in fact.

That’s the premise anyway. The story then continues as they face questioning from friends and colleagues wondering about the efficacy of a plan that moves a family to Europe with no jobs, place to live, etc. Drama plays out, emotions are wrought -- you get the idea. Eventually you get a pretty good ending and can’t help but be frustrated with Frank and April.

Overall, the book certainly makes you think, wonder about things, and question why these people believe what they do (if nothing else, it will make you feel great about whatever relationship you might be in or could be in). I was told that this book is a favorite of writers… I can see why, the characters and story develop very nicely and like most artists, writers sometimes see beauty in sadness and loneliness (sorry for the revelation but you’ll see plenty of it in the book). The book’s real genius is in its subtle, ironic and emotionally charged subjects. For anyone who has ever questioned “society” or what being “normal” is, this book is worthy of a reading.

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