Revolutionary Road
June 13, 2007 1:48 AM   Subscribe

Sam Mendes is currently directing an adaptation of Richard Yates's 1961 novel Revolutionary Road. Ignored for much of Yates's lifetime the 2000 edition, championed by Richard Ford, received renewed critical acclaim and the book went on to make Time's all-time 100 novels list. For those re-discovering it John Mullen offers a four part reading guide: imaginary dialogue, the epigraph, comic dialogue, the ending.
posted by ninebelow (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, first No Country for Old Men and now this. (By that I mean books I read and am surprised are now movies.) A great book, though I have doubts about Mendes pulling it off.
posted by zardoz at 2:20 AM on June 13, 2007

Leonardo di Caprio as Frank? That sounds like a bad choice.
posted by tula at 2:32 AM on June 13, 2007

Another Yates' novel, The Easter Parade, is probably the most purely depressing novel I've ever read. It seriously ruined my life.

Most books are depressing because they are about the bad things happen to the characters. The Easter Parade is depressing because bad things are going to happen TO YOU.

After a few of my coworkers at the bookstore read it, we joked that we should start shelving it in the Horror section.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:05 AM on June 13, 2007

What? I feel like I've been hearing about Revolutionary Road since before 2000. Was it a case of a book not appreciated in the Anglosphere that got lots of attention in the rest of the world? Or, hell, it may be that I read enough that I only feel like I've been hearing about it for a decade. Either way, it's a book I've been meaning to pick up for a while. Or I'll just wait for the movie :)
posted by Kattullus at 4:43 AM on June 13, 2007

I am not sure what is meant by "ignored" since I had met Yates and he had a nice rep by then...he had not become as "big" as the Roths, Mailers, Updikes, for sure, but that one novel was always considered by many as a truly fine work. There have been many anti-suburban books but this one seems to have been and to remain the best of them.
posted by Postroad at 4:45 AM on June 13, 2007

Revolutionary Road is less harrowing than Easter Parade, more of a traditional novel. Think of Revolutionary Road as Blue Velvet and Easter Parade as Mulholland Drive. And this comparison is not so far-fetched since the two Yates books, like the two Lynch movies, are all about picking at the rottenness at the heart of things.

Revolutionary Road isn't really anti-suburban -- certainly the particular thoughtless broken people he writes about live in the suburbs but I think they might live anywhere. What I worry about with Mendes is that he directed the lousy American Beauty, which is exactly the kind of cheap LOLSUBURBS trifle that you could mistake Revolutionary Road for by reading the back cover.
posted by escabeche at 5:07 AM on June 13, 2007

I was really looking forward to Glimpses of the Moon.
posted by pokermonk at 5:48 AM on June 13, 2007

Cold Spring Harbour is impressively glum as well.
posted by Mocata at 6:14 AM on June 13, 2007

Cold Spring Harbour is impressively glum as well.

I don't think Yates has written anything that isn't impressively glum. A quote from Richard Russo's introduction to The Collected Stories Of Richard Yates that has stuck with me:

"Dream big and we're expected to fail. About the worse that can happen is that we'll be applauded for our pluck. Dream small, Yates seems to suggest, and we're expected to succeed. As a result failure ensures not just disappointment but humiliation, anguish, and, most dangerous of all, the impulse to dream smaller next time, thereby risking even greater failure."

Postroad: ignored is perhaps too strong but he is certainly a more high profile author since that particular edition (and the re-printing of his back catalogue that followed its success.) I don't think the film would have been made without it.
posted by ninebelow at 7:39 AM on June 13, 2007

One of my favorite American novels, bar none, and it depresses me to no end to consider that (a) Sam Mendes is directing a movie of it and (b) DiCaprio and Winslet are the leads.
posted by blucevalo at 10:09 AM on June 13, 2007

Whoa! We have Revolutionary Road crew signs and trailers all over our community college campus. I was wondering what that's all about. Where the heck have I been that I've never heard of this book?
posted by houseofdanie at 10:10 AM on June 13, 2007

This is another of those novels I was approached about adapting... I said 'only if I can direct it'. The reply that came back included stuff about screen doors and asses.

It's a really tough book to adapt, unrelenting, without any really sympathetic characters. Mendes is a really good choice though.
posted by unSane at 10:42 AM on June 13, 2007

OMG! Leo and Kate togetha again! HAWT
posted by threetwo at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2007

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