Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

I read this book because I was curious about the movie. It sounded interesting, but I don't know that I really ever understood what it was about. A married couple who wanted more out of life. They were going to be different - "revolutionary."

I just happened to see the book on a shelf at the library and decided to check it out.

I so wish I hadn't.

I didn't like this book at all. The couple were two extremely selfish, arrogant people. They were convinced they were better than everyone else. Completely and totally convinced. And yet, I never learned anything about them to convince me that they were smarter or more attractive or at all better than the people they seemed to despise.

The husband is so pleased that he manages to do nothing at work. In fact, he is described as selecting the job because it was one of those big companies that no one would notice if he did nothing. We all hate our jobs at some point, and office jobs can be especially soul sucking, but we figure out ways to compensate for that. You either look for work that does have meaning, or you try to create a meaningful life outside of work. He's quite content to just brood about how boring his life his. How he deserves to live in Europe because life is better there.

His wife is equally horrible, convinced of her husband's brilliance and her own, by association with him.

His wife does at least make an attempt to do something to change their lives. She decides they're going to move to Europe. She's listened to her husband all these years and is convinced that is the cure. She starts making plans to get a civil service job of some sort. I didn't really understand that part. It seemed to be very easy for her to apply and get this job, despite the fact that she'd not worked in years.

But her action is, in a way, calling her husband's bluff. What is he going to do in Europe? He's not an artist or a writer or an inventor. How is he going to uncover his true potential in Europe? This is when you realize that all he wanted to do was complain. He never though moving would be a possibility, and now that it is, he's panicking. Also, at this point, he's finally starting to get involved in his office job and isn't sure he wants to leave.

The husband is such a jerk. He's always thinking about himself and how he looks and what impression he's leaving on others. Some of the descriptions of conversations between him and his wife were so bothersome. They never spoke to each other like two people who knew each other and cared about each other. He was always playing a role. I got so frustrated with them, why didn't they just talk to each other and tell each other how they were feeling.

These two people didn't love each other, they didn't even like each other. They liked the impression other people had of them. He was handsome and she was pretty and they liked the way they looked together.

Their plans to move fall apart because of their carelessness. The situation looks to only be worsening and April again finds herself trying to make things better. I suppose the ending is sad, but I disliked the characters so much I didn't care all that much.

finished reading: June 15, 2010

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