Revolutionary Road Revolutionary Road discussion


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The best book ever written?

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Annapurna Barry In my humble opinion, Revolutionary Road is probably the best book ever written. It is one of the most cutting of social critiques. The novel differs from other 'suburban' literature: it engages with ideas of a failed humanity and changes in the class system (the middle class had disappeared and had been replaced by a universal class), rather than directly attacking the effects of America's mass suburbanisation.


message 2: by Mia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia It's certainly one of my favorite books. There were so many issues Yates delved into: gender roles, reproductive rights, prejudice, infidelity, misogyny, social taboos, society vs. the individual, etc...

I know some people argue that the book's dated, but I actually think it has held up pretty well, considering we still have many of those same issues present today.

Too bad the movie stunk :( Sam Mendes should've adapted the book better.


Elisa Santos I couln´t agree more that this is one of the best books that i´ve read and will be in my hall of fame for sure s timeless. In no way i think it´s outdated because simply all of the issues that Richard Yates exposed on the book nd made his characters live still go on, on these days if the 21st century more than 50 years after he´s written it: it´s very today - the only thing that changes are the wardrobe, there is computer, internet, progress alas but all of the issueas remain to this day in age.


Chris Gager I've just begun - 100 pages in. BEST EVER? Nay, I must consider say... "Lolita" or "Pale Fire" among many others. But, it is pretty good so far.


doug bowman I liked this a lot, but his novel Disturbing the Peace resonated with me more. Disturbing the Peace by Richard Yates It is a compellingly realistic story of the downward spiral of an alcoholic. It's power comes from the exacting insights into the mundane existence of the characters trying to survive and thrive in modern society; along a view into the mind of a man making a step-by-step descent into a private hell. As Yates draws you into Wilder's mind, you find yourself,like the main character, unable to see the bottom, until you have made the slow descent into insanity.

I found the book incredibly insightful, with accurate representations of the madness of addiction. The book never descends to the level of moralizing or sermonizing, and that makes it all the more powerful. Yates creates an empathy between reader and character, and that makes the outcome all the more gripping.


Joseph Pfeffer Here I must disagree. Revolutionary road went flat after the first couple of chapters and never picked up again. The movie is better because it's tighter. Doesn't have the main character's endless musings about his job that pays him well even though he has no idea what it is. If you're looking for biting middle class satire, Sinclair Lewis is worlds ahead of Richard Yates. Babbit may be the best ever written of this genre, though it's hardly the best book ever written overall.


message 7: by Mia (last edited May 05, 2012 05:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia Joe wrote: "Here I must disagree. Revolutionary road went flat after the first couple of chapters and never picked up again. The movie is better because it's tighter. Doesn't have the main character's endless ..."

Sam Mendes chiseled away any depth the characters had, and basically made a film about a shrieking house frau and her cheating husband. Characters were tragic in the book, and had symbolism. They were just cookie cutter in the movie.


doug bowman Mia wrote: "Joe wrote: "Here I must disagree. Revolutionary road went flat after the first couple of chapters and never picked up again. The movie is better because it's tighter. Doesn't have the main characte..."

I agree with your assessment. I was still working in sales and totally empathized with the characters.


Elisa Santos I haven´t seen the movie, as of yet,but i never get too high hopes for the ,ovies that come out of books: theym generally are not half as poweefull as the book and take artistic licenses that turn and twist the bottom line of the book.
Do have to say that, apart from the musings from his part about the job that he never understood what it was but nevertheless payed him what he needed to keep up the bourgoisie kind of life that he hated so much, but did nothing to break the cycle, the book was very good, sarcástic and real.


message 10: by Don (new) - rated it 5 stars

Don Roff Not the best novel ever written, but damn, damn close.


message 11: by Rodney (last edited May 07, 2012 08:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rodney I don't think I personally could ever identify "the best novel ever written" but I do know Revolutionary Road is one of the top 2-3 books that always come to mind for me when I think of the best books I've read.

And anyone who says the story is dated simply isn't going deep enough with their reading of it. Yes the surface is dated, as it is with pretty much any classic, but the characters, their conflict and the tragedy of it all are alive and well today just as they were in the 50s and just as they were in Shakespeare. Not every story is immortal like that, but RR definitely is.


Mia wrote: Sam Mendes chiseled away any depth the characters had, and basically made a film about a shrieking house frau and her cheating husband. Characters were tragic in the book, and had symbolism. They were just cookie cutter in the movie

I couldn't agree more. RR is probably impossible to portray on film as so much of the conflict is internal and the symbolism (ie. the picture window) doesn't come through at all in the movie. The acting was pretty good, but that was it in my opinion.

Great great book.


Chris Gager I just finished this weekend. There is a dated aspect to the book but that's inevitable. The scene near the end when Frank comes back to the house right after April dies is a stunner. Best evocation of grief and loss ever? The end helped me to find compassion for two otherwise difficult/selfish/clueless people.


Joseph Pfeffer The best novel ever written is quite a stretch. If I had to choose my three favorites, they would A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Proust), Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), and my "left field" candidate, The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Urrea. In terms of middle class social satire novel, I still prefer Babbitt to Revolutionary Road.


Elisa Santos Rodney wrote: "I don't think I personally could ever identify "the best novel ever written" but I do know Revolutionary Road is one of the top 2-3 books that always come to mind for me when I think of the best bo..."

I couldn´t agree more - the surface of the book might seem dated - i.e. clothes, way of life, etc - but since the book focus mainly on their inner conflicts, it´s as up to date as ever: just take a look around, in your neighbourhood and you will find some Wheelers, somewhere.
This is a classic read, to, since it´s timeless, much like Vanity Fair, which is another one of my faves, a very good social satire, and written in the midle/end of the 19th century but as alive today as it ever was.....


message 15: by Mia (last edited Jun 21, 2012 02:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia @John
If you're going to get nitpicky about it the OP actually said "probably the best" not THE best. It's an opinion anyhow :) It's subjective. Some people might think RR is the best book ever written, while others think it's the crappiest book ever written. Eh. To each their own.

And RR being influenced by Madame Bovary doesn't invalidate the book as a great piece of literature. Shakespeare was influenced by other works. This doesn't discredit him as an amazing playwright. Again, look at John Milton's Paradise Lost. Pretty sure that one had a biblical influence ;) Powerful literature, myths, historical events, and historical figures all can influence a writer. Does this make them hacks? No. It's just inspiration, and it's not really a new technique.

I mean, it's not like Yates pulled a
Fifty Shades of Grey and went all fangirl over Twilight ;)

And just because someone hasn't read every single book ever written doesn't mean they're forbidden from having an OPINION lol Jeez.


message 16: by Mia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia The very first thing she says is "in my humble opinion." I think that makes it pretty clear that this is her opinion lol

And it looks like most of the people that responded (myself included) didn't agree with her completely anyhow, so I don't think anyone's taking her statement as fact.


Joseph Pfeffer One of the great things about reading is that we all have personal favorites no one else cares about. On my list you'll find A Week in October, Fireflies in the Mist, The Sex Lives of Cannibals. I'm one of maybe a dozen people who's heard about those books, much less read them. Yet they all mean a great deal to me. So if someone wants to call Revolutionary Road the greatest book ever written, I've got no problem. She reads quality literature. How many people do that these days? BTW, I gave RR three stars. Differences of opinion are what makes discussing books so much fun.


message 18: by James E. (new)

James E. Martin I suggest "underworld" by Don DeLillo. It's an amazing book.


Chris Gager And the congenial(I hope) debate goes on. No vote for "Underworld" from me. Even skimming couldn't get me through it. How about "Vanity Fair"?


Joseph Pfeffer Often, the best book I've ever read is the last one I read, or the one I'm reading. Now it's a tie between Winters Bone (Daniel Woodrell) and The Queen of the South (Arturo Perez-Reverte). The best movie ever? Safety Not Guaranteed. Saw it last night. Stay tuned.


message 21: by Mia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia Joe wrote: "Often, the best book I've ever read is the last one I read, or the one I'm reading. Now it's a tie between Winters Bone (Daniel Woodrell) and The Queen of the South (Arturo Perez-Reverte). The best..."

lol Joe

I find that my taste in books has changed as I mature. Just 4 yrs. ago in high school I thought certain books were amazing, and now I think they're meh. And some books I initially hated I now like.

RR is definitely in my top ten books, but I think my favorite book is probably Frank Herbert's Dune.

My hubby loves Vanity Fair, but I haven't read it yet. It's a pretty hefty looking book lol


Elisa Santos Vanity Fair - love it and i have read it at least 6 times now, and i always discover something new on it - a new perspective on a character,a detail that i missed the other time around.....


Chris Gager "Dune" was awesome(and "revolutionary") when I read it many years ago but I hesitate to vote for a Sci-Fi novel."VF" takes a while to get through but it's worth it. Very much ahead of it's time... Another poassibility: "A House for Mr. Biswas"...


Chris Gager possibility... sorry


Gavin Bishop Annapurna wrote: "In my humble opinion, Revolutionary Road is probably the best book ever written. It is one of the most cutting of social critiques. The novel differs from other 'suburban' literature: it engages wi..."

I think that Updike, Cheever, and Roth covered the same territory as effectively as Richard Yates. Yates wrote another book, "Young Hearts Crying" which I liked as much as "Revolutionary Road."

My favorite suburban madness novel is "Seventh Heaven" by Alice Hoffman. It's about a bohemian divorcee who disturbs the peace in a middle class Long Island subdivision in the early Sixties.


Maura I have just read The Easter Parade , has any of you read this one. It was also very good like R.R. but it ended very aburtly. What are your thoughts on the ending, i just wished for more on Emily;


message 27: by Francene (last edited Oct 15, 2012 07:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Francene Carroll Joe wrote: "Here I must disagree. Revolutionary road went flat after the first couple of chapters and never picked up again. The movie is better because it's tighter. Doesn't have the main character's endless ..."

I actually had the opposite experience with this book. I struggled to get into it, but then it just took off and the end was truly devastating for me. I agree that the movie is very well done.


Elisa Santos The middle dragged a bit but it picked up after the "infatuation" Franck and April were on - that was stale, but necessary for the storyline.


SofieSollis Has anyone read Young Hearts Crying? what did you make of this in comparison?


Kallie I just read RR for the second time; it's brilliant at depicting American culture and the characters' self-deceptions. The most honest character is deemed insane! Have to say though, I can't designate books 'best' because my favorites are so different in style, characterization, etc., that they truly defy comparison. This one is way up there on my list though; hence the second read. Yates' voice is like no other.


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