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Love and Hate on Revolutionary Road

Can you love a book that you hated reading?  I just finished Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road, which was by far one of the best novels I’ve read in years.  It’s a searing and brilliant and thoughtful portrait of marriage, of our fears of mediocrity, of suburban malaise, of the fleetingness of our emotion and loyalty, of the ways in which our choices accumulate and suppress us, and of basic human limitation.  How our expectations of adulthood often clash brutally with reality, and how when we communicate, we are merely spinning myths about ourselves.  In this novel, communication is sometimes nothing more than a bad stage play, with practiced mannerisms to match.

Yeah, so it’s a complex and beautiful book, impossible to do justice to in a couple of run-on sentences.  But then why did I find reading it so harrowing?  It’s simple, really: the truth hurts.  

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How about writing a book that people hate to read?

I wrote a book about The Art of War.  If you're familiar with it, you know it advocates more peace than war.  But ignorant souls inevitably would make snide remarks about how they hate war as they pass by me.  Too bad I follow the book too much to kick them in the shins. :-)

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It's nice to see books of

It's nice to see books of quality -- but not certified classics -- popping up into public discourse.  I first had REV. ROAD recommended to me by my creative writing professor at SF State over 35 years ago.   (I had never heard of it or Yates -- and that was at a time when I kept up on contemporary fiction.)  Then there was a Yates revival, maybe 20 years ago, centered around events I can't recall -- a new novel? a collection of stories? a bio? a death? -- and friends were reading it and telling me how good it was.  Don't think I've heard him or it mentioned since.  What led you to pick it up?

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I recently moved to London and found this wonderful bookstore in my neighborhood (Daunt Books).  They specialize in travel, but have an impeccable fiction section.  Anyhow, I was chatting with the guy who works there and he recommended it as one of those books that he can read over and over again and get something new out of it every time.  I can't wait to see what he recommends next, since he was spot on with this one...

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2001 Yates' Collected Stories

I am reading that now. Russo's intro is strong, too.  If I remember correctly Revolutionary Road is forthcoming as a film.