Liam's Reviews > Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
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Sep 17, 11

bookshelves: c20th-postwar, downbeat, heartbreaking, it-s-how-its-written
Read from September 10 to 11, 2011

A very sad novel about ambition, mediocrity, the suburbs and fading youth. The dialogue is painfully well-observed and the writing is often remarkably poignant - touching on that uncomfortable fear that maybe you're not cut out for more than anyone else. The books style is like a 3rd person, soft stream-of-consciousness, where thoughts are focussed and eloquently expressed, but the flow of associated memories and feelings are unpredictable and naturally unfold.

Our ability to measure and apportion time afford an almost endless source of comfort.

"Synchronise watches at oh six hundred," says the infantry captain, and each of his huddled lieutenants finds a respite from fear in the act of bringing two tiny pointers into jeweled alignment while tons of heavy artillery go fluttering overhead: the prosaic, civilian-looking dial of the watch has restored, however briefly, an illusion of personal control. Good, it counsels, looking tidily up from the hairs and veins of each terribly vulnerable wrist; fine: so far, everything happening right on time.

"I'm afraid I'm booked solid through the end of the month", says the executive, voluptuously nestling the phone at his cheek as he thumbs the leaves of his appointment calender, and his mouth and eyes at that moment betray a sense of deep security. The crisp, plentiful, day-sized pages before him prove that nothing is unforseen, no calamity of chance or fate can overtake him between now and the end of the month. Ruin and pestilence have been held at bay, and death itself will have to wait; he is booked solid. (p.213)

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Beginning with a quick, audacious dismantling of the Knox Business Machines Corporation, which made her laugh, he moved out confidently onto braoder fields of damnation until he had laid the punctured myth of Free Enterprise at her feet; then, just at the point where any further talk of economics might have threatened to bore her, he swept her away into cloudy realms of philosophy and brought her lightly back to earth with a wise-crack.

And how did she feel about the death of Dylan Thomas? And didn't she agree that this generation was the least vital and most terrified in modern times? He was at the top of his form. He was making use of material that had caused Milly Campbell to say "Oh that's so true, Frank!" and of older, richer stuff that had once helped to make him the most interesting person April Johnson had ever met. (p.96)


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