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Revolutionary Road

I'm finally reading Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates. The same Revolutionary Road that was made into a movie, staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, this year. I was told over and over again not to go see it as we were getting ready to leave Los Angeles. The story centers around a couple with two kids who decide to chuck it all and move to Paris. As Bob and I, and our two kids, were in the middle of chucking it all to move to nowhere in particular, the movie reminded friends of us. From the tone of friends voices, and words like, "Just don't go see Revolutionary Road!!", I gathered things didn't work out all that well for this fictional couple, and so didn't see the movie. 

So why am I now reading the book? For two reasons:

1. David Sedaris, whom I love with an unabiding passion, (and who perplexes and annoys my father to such a degree that I can't stop wondering why), said that he reads this book every single year, because, "I love how the characters deceive themselves." Analyzing how people - both fictional and real - deceive themselves is a life-long compulsion of mine.

2. It was on the 3 for 2 stand in the bookstore. I also bought The House At Pooh Corner, and Foreskin's Lament.

I am halfway through the book, and I smell doom looming on Revolutionary Road. The whole idea must just fall apart for this couple. The delicious exhilaration of flinging caution to the wind in a grand and noble way will start to deflate and shrink as details loom large, and reality settles backs in. I know that feeling. The terribly romantic, "you and me against the world Babe," stage turns into, "How much did you get done on your list today?" all too quickly.

I have spent the last few hours hiding my face in my hands in chagrin as I recognize the smug mirror-image of Bob and I during those first heady weeks of planning and paring. I keep gasping and blushing and then insisting that Bob, "listen to this!" as this couple, so sure that they have found THE ANSWER, grow more and more insufferable to all those around them. Oh God Oh God, I apologize to everyone in my entire world. But hey - at least you got a cheap fondue pot out of it!

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Reader Comments (10)

The fondue pot was totally worth it! And I have not seen the movie or read the book, so what do I know?

Dec 7, 2009 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMara

Just saw the movie a week ago (at home, on DVD) It was so 60's. [The people, the expectations, the times.] You are not that couple - this is the 21st century. and you are from a different time. Enjoy your adventure.

Dec 7, 2009 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMargery

Heck, guys. It's just a book and a movie. You two are so much solider and deeper than the characters in Revolutionary Road. What more can I say. Pinch yourselves. It's a movie.


Dec 7, 2009 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Gorodn

while i haven't seen or read the book, i do know for certain that Bob could kick Leonardo's ASS with 1 arm and Brenna would put an arrow through Winslet's forehead from 50 yards in the dark of night.

Not to spoil the ending but Winslet taps her ruby heels and ends up back in LA & while Leo is actually the farmhand on the organic farm. Then i believe the kids come along later in Revolutionary Road Part 2.

Dec 8, 2009 at 6:40 AM | Unregistered Commentertravis

I didn't see the movie, but DID read the book and loved it - for the same reasons David Sedaris does: excellent writing and depicting of characters and the complexity of human flaws. So it's an excellent commentary on human beings of any era - but that doesn't mean you and Bob are Frank and April Wheeler!
Meanwhile, I avoided the movie because I knew it wouldn't capture those complexities, so you can't judge the book by its movie. My general judgement is that movie versions of books always disappoint.

Dec 8, 2009 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterIris

Heck. At least I got to accompany you guys on part of your trip and carry Eleanor on my shoulders around Belgrade. Seeing Owen communicate with people without knowing their language. Not to mention living vicariously while reading your blog.

Dec 8, 2009 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Revolutionary Road is one of my favorite novels...while I'm a child of the 60's and can most certainly relate to it when I think back to what was playing out with all the adults around me at the time, I also feel it is a timeless novel. Yates does a flawless job of expressing the hopelessness of a marriage gone wrong... I didn't see the movie because while I love both the lead actors, they are so NOT what was described in the book from a physical level. I probably will see it sometime but I'm sure it won't compare to the book... I don't see what ya'll have done is anything comparable to what this couple envisioned...There's just a basic despondency with this couple... On the other hand, you guys are inspiring! Thanks for sharing what you're living... I continue to salute you all!

Dec 9, 2009 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterKim P.

are you done yet? the book is exquisite and brilliant but my opinion is that it's more of an examination of two people believing in each other and themselves. the story really defines how the suspension of disbelief that is sometimes necessary is so crucial for humans in order to chase their dreams...

Dec 14, 2009 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterlisa mertins

ps, don't read another yates on the heels of this one -- i made that mistake. his themes don't diverge much...

Dec 14, 2009 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterlisa mertins

I did finish the book, and I don't think I've read anything more masterfully done! I've always thought that the amazing facility for self-deception that humankind possess is one of our most dangerous traits. Dangerous to ourselves, dangerous to humanity. This book swims in the self-wrought agony. Wonderful and disturbing.

I'm now reading Foreskin's Lament, by Shalom Auslander. Read it!!! Wickedly funny and devastating sad.


Dec 19, 2009 at 2:10 AM | Registered CommenterBob & Brenna Redpath

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