Kemper's Reviews > Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
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Feb 09, 10

bookshelves: 100, classic-lit
Read in February, 2010

There’s an impression that American manhood took a nosedive in the ‘60s after a generation of manly men beat back the Nazis and then turned their no-nonsense pragmatism and can-do spirit to business and started a huge economic boom. Since those damn dirty hippies ruined the country, and liberal crybabies made being a hetro white male a crime, it’s just been generation after generation of worthless girly-men ever since.

However, after watching Mad Men and reading Rabbit, Run and Revolutionary Road, I’m starting to think that maybe we aren’t so bad after all since the men of the ‘50s and early ‘60s seem to have been self-absorbed, passive aggressive bastards who are so insecure that they demand that their women love them unconditionally even as they do everything they can to break their spirits and make them cater to their every whim. I feel like John Wayne compared to Rabbit Angstrom or Frank Wheeler.

Frank and April Wheeler are a maddening couple. Frank is a bullshit artist who spent some time in New York’s hipster scene in the ‘50s convincing everyone that he was something special. He’s not, but poor April doesn’t find that out until after they get married. A couple of pregnancies later and they’re living in a suburban enclave while turning up their noses at the 1950’s American lifestyle they’re leading.

The main problem they have is that while Frank talks a good game and acts like he’s better than his job and the suburban life, he’s actually kind of comfortable and would be happy to just keep coasting along. But April is itching for something more and uses Frank’s ego to trap him into agreeing to move to Paris. When he actually starts succeeding at his job in the marketing department, Frank uses every trick he’s got to convince April to drop the idea of moving to Europe.

I couldn’t stand the selfish Frank any more than I could stand Rabbit Angstrom in Updike’s book, and I have an idea that hell may be having endless cocktails with those two idiots. But I didn’t have much patience with April, either. She got a crappy condescending husband, but thinking that moving to Paris is going to fix everything that’s making her unhappy isn’t very realistic.

Great book, but a depressing story.
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy I'll get to this soon, just not in the mood for depressing stories right now.


Kemper Nancy wrote: "I'll get to this soon, just not in the mood for depressing stories right now."

Then stay away from this one. It's definately not a feel-good story.


Kasia Yup, ‘50s and early ‘60s (and everything before that, oh God the XIXth century) seems like a horrible time for women and gay and African Americans and Native Americans - pretty much everybody who wasn't a white male. And is not as much that men of today are wussies compared to their predecessors, but rather that they do share power nowadays. Which is a nice thing, if you ask me.


Kemper Kasia wrote: "Yup, ‘50s and early ‘60s (and everything before that, oh God the XIXth century) seems like a horrible time for women and gay and African Americans and Native Americans - pretty much everybody who w..."

As a hetro white male, I say you'll have my power when you pry it from my cold dead hands! Ah, who am I kidding. I don't have any power.....


message 5: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi Have you seen the movie Kemper? It was weird to see Kate and Leo take on these roles after Titanic, but I thought they pulled it off. Great review!


Kemper Trudi wrote: "Have you seen the movie Kemper? It was weird to see Kate and Leo take on these roles after Titanic, but I thought they pulled it off. Great review!"

I saw bits and pieces of it on cable, but I really had no urge to watch it even though I'm a big fan of Sam Mendes. After reading the book, I figured it would just depress the hell out of me.


message 7: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi Oh gawd yes, depressing as shit. I've been trying to steel up my nerve and tackle the book. Maybe someday, after I win the lottery and am laughing from my luxury yacht in the middle of the Pacific, drunk and surrounded by shirtless Dean Winchester clones, I'll pick it up then. What? It could happen!


Kemper Trudi wrote: "Oh gawd yes, depressing as shit. I've been trying to steel up my nerve and tackle the book. Maybe someday, after I win the lottery and am laughing from my luxury yacht in the middle of the Pacific,..."

Dare to dream!


message 9: by Trudi (new) - added it

Trudi A girl's gotta have goals.


Cecily "Great book, but a depressing story" Yep. Don't read Yates if you're depressed, and especially not if you have drink or relationship problems. ;)


message 11: by Loren (new)

Loren Have you seen the film adaptation with Kate Winslett & Leonardo DiCaprio? I liked it very much. I enjoyed watching the story come to life on the screen. I have not read much Yates, but maybe I should.


Kemper Loren wrote: "Have you seen the film adaptation with Kate Winslett & Leonardo DiCaprio? I liked it very much. I enjoyed watching the story come to life on the screen. I have not read much Yates, but maybe I should."

I've seen bits and pieces of it on cable, but I never wanted to sit down and watch the whole thing. It depressed me enough reading it. I think if I saw it acted out, I wouldn't get out of bed for a month.


Cecily Loren wrote: "Have you seen the film adaptation with Kate Winslett & Leonardo DiCaprio? I liked it very much."

I have, and I thought it was very true to the atmosphere of the book.


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