Some Snippets From “Revolutionary Road”

Yeah. I’ve read better writing.
Yeah. I’ve heard better tales.
Yeah. I’ve related to some fiction on a deeper level.

But Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road is a surprisingly good read. The bottom line of the story is there’s this couple in the suburbs that believes they’ve settled for what life gives them rather than living a life of adventure and passion. The couple decides to chuck it all and just go to Paris. There’s a semblance of a plan, but beyond that, just live the adventure.

And, there’s some dialogue that I found provocative…and the writing’s pretty good, too. For example, April threw Frank a birthday party and his present was to announce her “plan”…

“Don’t you see? Don’t you see that’s the whole idea? You’ll be doing what you should’ve been allowed to do seven years ago. You’ll be finding yourself. You’ll be reading and studying and taking long walks and thinking. You’ll have *time*. For the first time in your life you’ll have time to find out what it is that you want to do, and when you find it you’ll have the time and freedom to start doing it.”

What suburban person wouldn’t want THAT?

Well, her husband Frank is grateful for the gift, he mentions that it just isn’t realistic. April’s response:

“In order to agree with that, I’d have to have a very strange and very low opinion of reality. Because you see I happen to think *this* is unrealistic. I think it’s unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go working like a dog year after year at a job he can’t stand, coming home to a house he can’t stand in a place he can’t stand, either, to a wife who’s equally unable to stand the same things…”

Granted, they’re an extreme case, but isn’t there some sort of ability to relate to this on some level if you’re living the suburban lifestyle?

One last one, then I’ll let you have at it. This one is when Frank’s response involved that he didn’t much see himself as an artist or writer. April says,:

“Oh, Frank. Can you really think artists and writers are the only people entitled to lives of their own? Listen, I don’t care if it takes you five years of doing nothing at all. I don’t care if you decide after five years that what you really want is to be a bricklayer or a mechanic or a merchant seaman. Don’t you see what I’m saying? It’s got nothing to do with definite, measurable talents–it’s your very *essence* that’s being stifled here. It’s what you *are* that’s being denied and denied and denied in this kind of life.”


Lots of ways to take these by way of response and I guess I could steer it somewhat.

But I’d prefer to let the patrons grab their coffee on this snow day and take the conversation wherever they want…