28 March 2008

Personal revolution

Tore through Revolutionary Road in three days. Yates perfectly captures the delicate balance between responsibility and personal satisfaction, locating the dilemma in the decisions of a young couple in 1955. I'm still thinking about it... (Can one ever really know the difference between gut instinct and self-delusion?) Although it's your standard realist novel, the ambiguity of the causes and effects of the Wheelers' disastrous relationship make it more mirror than cautionary tale--its issues are just as vital and necessary as they were then. I hope the upcoming film maintains this ambiguity.

As Blake Bailey says in a 2007 article,
Were Yates alive to advise Mendes, I daresay he'd insist that the movie begin, as the novel does, with April's mortifyingly awful performance in an amateur production of The Petrified Forest. In other words, the Wheelers' doom should never be in doubt because they can't help being themselves. "When the curtain fell at last," Yates wrote, at the end of one of the most excruciating scenes in American literature, "it was an act of mercy."


Anonymous said...

Just read this book at the same time you did, trying to stay in front of the film (amongst other things). Thoughts at my zhiv book blog. Sticking with me over the past 10 days, and amazed by the unfolding Yates/movie major author phenomenon.

amcorrea said...

Thanks for the note! I liked reading your thoughts. It seems that Frank was both right and wrong about her at the same time. How could someone so "literate" be such an insensitive dolt? (Yates aptly demonstrates the answer to this question, of course, but I'm still amazed.)