Category Archives: Yates, Richard

… she would drink nothing for a week except a beer or a glass of wine after work each day.

The Easter Parade, by Richard Yates

Where to start with such a book? Perhaps with the opening paragraph which is sufficiently brilliant that it leaves anything I might say quite redundant:

Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents’ divorce. That happened in 1930, when Sarah was nine years old and Emily five. Their mother, who encouraged both girls to call her ‘Pookie,’ took them out of New York to a rented house in Tenafly, New Jersey, where she thought the schools would be better and where she hoped to launch a career in suburban real estate. It didn’t work out – very few of her plans for independence ever did – and they left Tenafly after two years, but it was a memorable time for the girls.

easter-parade

The Easter Parade is a study in disappointment, and that first paragraph sets the stage beautifully. Leaving aside the power of that first sentence let’s look at some of the other elements for a moment: we know that ‘Pookie’ wants to be seen by her daughters more as friend than authority figure; the cutesy nickname suggests she might not be very practical which is immediately confirmed by that unsuccessful move to Tenafly and by that aside on her various plans; and then that final coda that “it was a memorable time for the girls” which somehow makes the whole thing infinitely sadder.

Easter tracks the Grimes sisters from childhood through to middle age. Sarah is the pretty one, popular and conventional. Emily lacks her sister’s curves and confidence but is both more independent and clearer-sighted. Early on they travel to the city to see their father. They think he’s an important journalist and are shocked when he explains that he’s “only a copy-desk man”. Sarah still boasts of him at school; Emily reminds her afterwards of the diminished reality.

Sarah saves herself through adolescence and marries a dashing and popular boy named Tony who has English parents and movie-star good looks. It’s what a good girl does and he seems a good catch, but we know from that opening sentence that the marriage won’t make her happy.

Emily meanwhile loses her virginity to a soldier on leave whom she never sees again, goes to college and then gets jobs in journalism and ultimately in advertising. Where Sarah chose marriage, family and domesticity Emily chooses independence and a career, but we still have that opening sentence reminding us that neither sister has a happy life.

The writing, as ever with Yates, is exquisite. I loved this description of part of Emily’s encounter with that soldier:

Somewhere above Forty-second street he kissed her. It wasn’t the first time she had been kissed – not even the first time she’d been kissed on top of a Fifth Avenue bus; one of the boys in high school had been that brave – but it was the first kiss of its kind, ever.

Despite that theme of disappointment, or perhaps because of it, there are no great tragedies here. Sarah would count losing her virginity to a random soldier as a disaster but Emily doesn’t suffer any for it. There are deaths, but from illness or age (perhaps sometimes exacerbated by too much to drink for too long, but natural all the same). Nobody is murdered; nobody dies in a car crash or rail collision; aliens don’t invade; the world doesn’t end; life carries on.

Years slip by sometimes in a sentence. Sarah and Emily drift apart. Each of them wants a little of what the other has perhaps because neither has a whole life. But then, who does? We all have to make choices.

Sarah dreams of doing some writing and her early efforts suggest talent, but her husband isn’t interested and she’s not part of that world. Nothing she writes ever gets finished and nobody really cares except her.

Emily meanwhile marries a man who comes to resent her for his impotence and some years later moves with an aging poet named Jack to a writer’s workshop in Iowa where he hopes to rediscover his early talent. Like Sarah, Emily tries putting her man ahead of herself and briefly abandons her career to support Jack’s but he too comes to resent her when his writer’s block fails to clear. Somehow Sarah can’t unlock the door to Emily’s creativity, nor Emily the door to Sarah’s domesticity.

There’s a sense that it all tracks back to their parents. To their father who considered himself a failure and who wrote headlines for a minor newspaper whose politics he disagreed with. To their mother with her fantasies of a grandeur and an elegance she could never realise. But perhaps that’s too easy, because none of the other characters seem any happier and they don’t all have divorced parents.

Early on in the novel Sarah and Tony go to watch the Easter Parade. They’re photographed there, young and happy and full of life and love. It’s paradise captured in a Kodak moment. Perhaps that’s the clue to this novel. Happiness is fleeting. Life can’t be frozen in a snapshot; kept inviolable against age and defeat.

Tony’s career never takes off. Sarah drinks too much and grows fat and dowdy. Emily is successful but lonely. Pookie dissolves into her own fantasies. Years after their breakup Emily sees a review of Jack’s new volume of poetry which he’s finally managed to write. It’s lacklustre and the reviewer quickly moves on to a newer poet.

If Tony and Sarah had died that day at the Easter Parade, if some chunk of masonry had fallen from a building flattening them both, then their lives would have been judged happy to that point. People would mourn their lost potential; their bright future. Instead they lived and the future turned out not to be so bright after all. It’s not the divorce that makes the Grimes’ sisters’ lives unhappy. It’s living.

I’ll end with one final quote from fairly early in the novel. Here Emily and Pookie are visiting Sarah and Tony who’re now set up in a home of their own. Sarah is married as she wanted, Emily’s at college as she wanted. Pookie can see her daughters doing well for themselves. They should all be happy and yet …

[Sarah] served a lunch that was almost as inadequate as one of Pookie’s meals; then the problem was that the conversations kept petering out. Sarah wanted to hear ‘everything’ about Barnard, but when Emily began to talk she saw her sister’s eyes glaze over in smiling boredom. Pookie said “isn’t this nice? Just the three of us together again?” But it wasn’t really nice very nice at all, and for most of the afternoon they sat around the sparsely furnished living room in attitudes of forced conviviality. Three women with nothing much to say to one another. Color illustrations of Magnum Navy fighter planes in action occupied one wall; on another was the framed Easter photograph of Sarah and Tony.

I suspect I’ve made this sound bleak and to be fair a novel about the disappointments of life can’t help but be a little bleak. However, the honesty and the beauty of the writing takes it above that. This is a sad novel, but not a depressing one. As it closes nobody is any the wiser, but life continues. It may not always be all we’d wish, but it’s the only game in town.

Other reviews

Jacqui over at Jacqui Wine’s Journal pushed me over the line into reading this (I’ve owned it for ages). Her review is here. Jacqui also linked to reviews by Kim at Reading Matters here and by guest reviewer Carly at Tomcatintheredroom here.

Carly’s review picks up two key themes that I wish I’d picked up above, but it felt like cheating to change my review to follow hers. They’re the theme of the pursuit of art as an unsuccessful route to meaning which crops up repeatedly here; and the devastating quality of small heartbreaks. Carly quotes an exchange that she calls “one of the most quietly devastating in any work of fiction” and I can’t disagree with her. Follow the link above to see it for yourself.

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it’s supposed to be a good school

A Good School, by Richard Yates

Richard Yates is an underappreciated writer, not forgotten, but not widely read either. The recent film of his classic , Revolutionary Road, may help change that, but I have my doubts.

Revolutionary Road, which I write about here, was Yates’ first novel and is still his best regarded. A good school, which I’ve just finished, is among his least regarded (though a lesser regarded Yates is still better than most writers are capable of).

A good school is dedicated to the memory of Yates’ father, and is thought to be largely autobiographical. It is the story of a second-rate (if that) prep school with beautiful buildings but money problems, the Second World War is looming and against that backdrop Yates explores the lives of the school’s staff and pupils and of one of those pupils in particular – William Groves.

William Groves is not one of the popular boys. He is not good at games, and adolescence is not being kind to him (it is to so few of us). He is subjected to sexual hazing games (which the text does not shy away from), looked down on by the teachers and the book is often at its best when discussing his painful attempts to make friends and fit in.

The novel opens with a first person perspective (rare for Yates), with an unnamed narrator looking back and remembering his father, a once-promising tenor who became and lived his life as “assistant regional sales manager for the Mazda Lamp Division (light bulbs).” There is a sadness to this opening, the narrator’s parents are divorced, there is a distance between father and son, but the father is doing his best and that includes paying for a prep school he can’t really afford but which the mother – persuaded by aspirational dreams and a salesman headmaster – is convinced is the right place for their child. The novel briefly returns to this first person voice at the close, a small reflection on the school and the narrator’s father.

The first person passages provide a viewpoint that is looking back, an authorial voice detached from the immediacy of the main part of the book. That main part, almost all the novel really, is written from a third person perspective but up close, right in the school with the teachers, the boys, all their rituals and dramas. The effect of the shifting narrative voice is to create a distance at the start and end, a perspective, but otherwise to immerse the reader deep within the world of the school. The adult can reflect on what happened, what if anything it meant. The boys don’t have that luxury, they are steeped in a world of direct and pressing experience, fevered immediacy, their only reflections are about how other boys will view them and whether they are fitting in.

Yates is particularly good at capturing the trials of adolescent life, the way for example communal showers become a battleground for asserting status, for glory or humiliation.

Lear had nothing to fear from the scrutiny of the shower room: he might not be as spectacular as Terry Flynn but he was all right, his prick was adequate, and he had powerful, admirably hairy legs. Another thing, he knew better than anyone how to snap a wet towel against the buttocks of other bathers.

A boy who has a large penis, or well developed body hair, he has nothing to fear. A boy though whose genitals aren’t really developed yet, whose pubic hair is arriving late, for him every shower is a trauma, an unavoidable ordeal that cannot be discussed with others even though they share it. In later life, status will be driven by considerations of job, money, possessions, but for now it is driven by issues of physical development, sporting prowess, rumoured success with girls. Popularity is a capricious thing, effortlessly achieved for some, unavailable despite all efforts for others.

The school, Dorset Academy, is near bursting with sexual tension. Masturbation is a fact of life, something one puts up with in roommates and which on occasion is done forcibly to a less-popular boy as a means of humiliating him. Erections are yet another source of embarrassment, rearing up at the most inopportune times and prompted by mere conversation with a girl. The boys fixate on the one girl their age they ever see, Edith Stone, a teacher’s daughter and student at a nearby (but quite inaccessible) girls’ school, they dream of her though few of them ever actually speak to her. Sex is an issue for the teachers too, with the crippled chemistry teacher’s wife sleeping with the French Master. The atmosphere is thick with lust, unsatisfied or illicit.

A good school has a wider focus than did Revolutionary Road. Here, Yates explores a whole school, the lives of several of the teachers and pupils. While William Groves is the focus, his experience the core of the narrative, the novel in the main opts for breadth of coverage rather than depth. That said, Yates still has a precise and unsparing eye which captures characters’ vanities and disappointments in a line. Here he describes a teacher’s wife after a quarrel:

When he’d gone she walked the floor for a long time with one hand at her forehead. She might have cried, except that it almost never occurred to her to cry when she was alone.

What impressed me with A good school was the clarity with which Yates captured those years. My own schooling was as far from Dorset Academy as can be imagined, a trendy inner city comprehensive in London rather than a failing prep school in pre-war Connecticut, but for all that I recognised almost everything. There is a universality of experience here, our schools may differ, but adolescence remains much the same. At one point the novel follows Edith Stone, the school’s lone girl, and her life is not that different to the boys – confused, pulsing with unsatisfied desire, obsessed with her developing body (is her chin alright? She checks in the mirror, repeatedly). She is as they are. To them, she is a mysterious and desirable creature, woman with a capital W, but in fact she is just another child struggling with a changing body and a crush of emotions she barely understands.

The opportunities for hurt, the uncertainty of those years, the sheer physical need for friendship coupled with the fear of showing weakness in front of your peers, I recognised it all and I thought it probably the best depiction of what school is like that I’ve read. We didn’t board at my school, but we had school trips where we had to choose roommates for the cheap hotels booked for us, this is how that went and I’m glad it was just for a fortnight and not for a year:

There was a rule at Dorset that you had to room alone during your first year, having a roommate was a privilege reserved for “old” boys. This made for a good deal of emotional tension every May, when the double-room assignments were given out.
“Hey,” one boy would shyly say to another. “Want to get a room together next year?”
“Well, the thing is I’ve already promised somebody else.”
“Oh.”
For a week the quadrangle pulsed with awkward little conversations like that; it was a time of subtle pursuit and hurt feelings and last-minute settlings for second best.

Equally, the following passage reminded me so strongly of when I was a teenager it bordered on painful to read:

Grove spent most of that vacation teaching himself to smoke. He would soon turn seventeen, and he didn’t want to be the fool of the senior club.
First he had to learn the physical side of it – how to inhale without coughing; how to will his senses to accept drugged dizziness as pleasure rather than incipient nausea. Then came the subtler lessons in aesthetics, aided by the use of the bathroom mirror: learning to handle a cigarette casually, even gesturing with it while talking, as if scarcely aware of having it in his fingers; deciding which part of his lips formed the spot where a cigarette might hang most attractively – front and profile – and how best to squint against the smoke in both of those views. The remarkable thing about cigarettes, he discovered, was that they added years to the face that always looked nakedly younger than his age.
By the time of his seventeenth birthday he was ready. His smoking passed the critical scrutiny of his peers – nobody laughed – and so he was initiated.

I didn’t teach myself to smoke. I did, however, have to teach myself how to drink beer. I’d go down the pub when my friends were otherwise occupied, buy a half-pint and force myself to drink it until I got used to the taste. I trained myself to enjoy having a drink, so that I could fit in, so I wouldn’t look childish. To me now, as an adult, that seems bizarre. At the time, it seemed vital.

As the novel continues, Grove starts to find his own place within the school, his own niche. The school’s finances continue to deteriorate, the tensions between the teachers to worsen. For all that, the question remains as to whether it is after all in some sense a good school. Boys who treat each other with appalling cruelty in the early years sometimes find an accommodation, to an extent they simply grow up and become less savage to each other, Groves, though never an academic success, becomes involved with the school newspaper so paving the way for a later career as a writer. Dorset Academy is a lousy school, run by a shyster of a headmaster and with a distinctly dubious reputation and teachers who try to pretend to themselves that it’s a better place than it is, but it is the only school Groves has and lousy as it may be it doesn’t do that badly for him, for all the misery along the way.

A good school is a short novel, under 200 pages, and it’s not at the level of Revolutionary Road. For all that though, it’s well written and it captures the brutality and promise of those years with exceptional skill. It’s a sad novel in many ways, and not always wholly successful (the boys start to get called up as the US enters the war, which is convincing and powerful, but I wasn’t persuaded the novel really needed those elements), but its depiction of school and adolescence is powerful and true and it reminds me how thankful I am to have left those years behind.

A good school

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The hopeless emptiness

Revolutionary Road is the first novel by American writer Richard Yates. Published in 1962, it is an unsparing analysis both of the failure of a particular marriage and more generally of the human desire to create myths so as to impose order on the chaos of existence, and of what happens when those myths fail us.

I was inspired to read Revolutionary Road, and indeed introduced to Richard Yates, through a review on Trevor Barret’s blog The Mookse and the Gripes. Trevor introduced me to Richard Yates as a writer, and in doing so did me a great kindness. I recommend his review, and that of John Self over at The Asylum unreservedly.

The novel opens with the first performance of a play by the Laurel Players, a new amateur dramatic society in which April Wheeler has a leading role. Frank and April Wheeler are a young married couple, with two young children and a fine house in a decent neighbourhood in the suburbs. The performance is a disaster, April’s participation in it an excruciating embarassment despite her pre-marriage ambitions as an actress. Afterwards, Frank has little idea how to comfort her, and on the drive home they fall into a blazing and bitter row which culminates in her leaping from the briefly paused car and running off in anger:

She was out of the car and running away in the headlights, quick and graceful, a little too wide in the hips.

Note the utter lack of sentimentality there, even in the pitch of argument Yates (and Frank) takes the time to observe April’s small imperfections. Frank goes after her, approaching from behind:

His arms flapped and fell; then, as the sound and the lights of an approaching car came up behind them, he put one hand in his pocket and assumed a conversational slouch for the sake of appearances.

Already then we have the feel for the novel, it is unpitying, closely observed, every failing of the characters is held up to merciless light and no room for ambiguity of interpretation of their failings is permitted. Frank, even in the midst of his wife’s humiliating failure and the terrible argument that it has produced, is concerned for the opinions of strangers driving past. His concern for appearances, for cutting the right figure, is greater than his concern for April herself.

As the novel progresses, we learn that Frank and April were originally a pair of New York sophisticates, Frank praised by all as a coming young man of great ability, with the two marrying when April became pregnant and Frank refused to allow her an abortion. Frank took a job he hates, they moved to the suburbs, but though they have joined that dream of American conformity both of them prize themselves as superior to their neighbours in perception and taste (even to their friends the Campbells, whom they faintly look down upon). Both consider themselves outposts of civilisation among the banality of America’s corporate classes.

Frank and April then have a sustaining myth, that they alone (with the Campbells as willing acolytes) care about culture, that of those living in their suburb only they truly appreciate the importance of art and independent thought and life beyond the office and the increasingly perfect consumer home. This myth is destroyed for them when their neighbours one and all dutifully turn up for the play, show themselves willing to engage with it, and the Laurel Players (behind whom the Wheelers and the Campbells are a driving force) wholly fails to deliver. The play fails, and in doing so punctures the Wheelers’ myth of specialness, and sets in motion the disintegration of their marriage.

Yates explores the slow unravelling of the Wheelers’ marriage in the aftermath of the theatrical production with surgical precision. As matters worsen, April realises that the only way to save them is to move to Europe, to opt out of their life of suburban comfort, to take a great risk and to give themselves and most importantly Frank the opportunity to be the people they always wanted to be. For Frank, it is a terrifying prospect, the appalling possibility of being able to live in accordance with his carefully constructed myth of self and to test it against reality.

For the bulk of the novel we have two perspectives on events. That of Frank Wheeler, and that of an unsympathetic and unsparing authorial voice, often directly commenting on the characters, their feelings and their actions. Zola once spoke of his desire to write fiction as a form of scientific experiment, to examine without turning away the consequences of the interaction of his characters. Yates does something similar here, we observe these characters under a microscope and Yates is keen that we understand them fully.

At times, Yates is content to allow Frank to condemn himself, in his own words. Frank’s concept of himself as a gifted man forced by circumstance to live in mundanity is plainly a myth of self, a created identity which Frank tells himself to make his life bearable. In truth, Frank is greatly concerned with appearances, shows little desire to leave his tedious job and often thinks of himself in terms of an idealised vision of how others see him.

As he digs a rock path, and thinks while doing so of what a manly act digging such a path is, he considers his life and how he came to his present suburban idyll:

And I didn’t even want a baby, he thought to the rhyhm of his digging. Isn’t that the damndest thing? I didn’t want a baby any more than she did. Wasn’t it true, then, that everything in his life from that point on had been a succession of things he hadn’t really wanted to do? Taking a hopelessly dull job to to prove he could be as responsible as any other family man, moving to an overpriced, genteel apartment to prove his mature belief in the fundamentals of orderliness and good health, having another child to prove that the first one hadn’t been a mistake, buying a house in the country because that was the next logical step and he had to prove himself capable of taking it.

Frank is constantly concerned with proving himself, and comforts himself that his failures are not of his doing but are the result of his need to provide for his family, to comply with the needs of others.

Frank’s is not the only perspective we share, we dip briefly into the internal worlds of others too, among them his friend Shep Campbell, the Wheeler’s acquaintance Mrs Givings and a local band leader named Steve Kovick. In each case we again see a myth of self, a constructed personal reality by which each individual lives, and the tragic gap between that personal myth and the truth of who they really are.

Of Shep Campbell, as a child:

For years, boy and man, he had yearned above all else to be insensitive and ill-bred, to hold his own among the sullen boys and men whose real or imagined jeers had haunted his childhood, to deny by an effort of will what for a long time had been the most shameful facts of his life: that he’d been raised in a succession of brownstone and penthouse apartments in the vicinity of Sutton Place, schooled by private tutors, and allowed to play with other children only under the smiling eye of his English nanny or his French ma’mselle, and that his wealthily divorced mother had insisted, until he was eleven years old, on dressing him every Sunday in “adorable” tartan kilts that came from Bergdorf Goodman.

Of Mrs Givings, following a difficult afternoon in which she introduced her institutionalised son to the Wheelers, shortly after the pretends to herself she is still the girl of her youth only to take off her stockings and be reminded that she is nothing of the kind:

She cried because she’d had such high, high hopes about the Wheelers tonight and now she was terribly, terribly terribly disappointed. She cried because she was fifty-six years old and her feet were ugly and swollen and horrible; she cried because none of the girls had liked her at school and none of the boys had liked her later; she cried because Howard Givings was the only man who’d ever asked her to marry him, and because she’d done it, and because her only child was insane.

And of Steve Kovick and his band:

They could play anything, in any style you wanted to name, and to judge from the delight that swam in their eyes they had no idea of what inferior musicians they were.

Each of them has an idea of their own life, Shep after a childhood pretending to be rough now pretends to be cultured, though not so much as the Wheelers. Mrs Givings lives her days in a flurry of makework, filling every moment with activity and comforting herself with a perfect home which she shares with a husband who turns off his hearing aid when she talks. Steve is convinced he is a talented band leader, unable to “lose his frantic grip on the conviction that he was great and getting better all the time”. Each of them lives a comforting lie, and Yates is at pains to ensure none of these lies pass unexposed.

As well as experiencing the inner life of these characters, we also see Frank at work, learn of his childhood and of April’s, we see late night dinner parties and uncomfortable afternoons, all of it brought to life in Richard Yates’ remarkable prose (and he is, without doubt, a hugely gifted prose stylist). Characters have affairs, dodge work assignments, get drunk and generally live their lives – at all times with the gap between desire and fulfilment, between dream and reality, painfully exposed by Yates’ authorial eye.

Indeed, one criticism of the novel is that Yates leaves little to the reader, although there are times a character’s thoughts or actions are uncommented on he is a good enough writer that their real (if often unrealised even to them) motives are quite apparent. He is not, however, shy of simply telling us directly and there is therefore an element of telling rather than showing. Show not tell though is a rule which, with the right author, is eminently breakable and although Yates is open to a charge of unambiguity I think that is a direct result of his desire to set out an authorial vision of human reality and to refuse us any possibility of hope or redemption.

Yates speaks most directly to us at the beginning of the third section of the novel, in a lengthy authorial interjection about the human desire to impose meaning on the chaos of existence:

Our ability to measure and apportion time affords an almost endless source of comfort.
“Synchronise watches at oh six hundred,” says the infantry captain, and each of his huddled lieutenants finds a respite from fear in the act of bringing two tiny pointers into jeweled alignment while tons of heavy artillery go fluttering overhead; the prosaic, civilian looking dial of the watch has restored, however briefly, an illusion of personal control. Good, it counsels, looking tidily up from the hairs and veins of each terribly vulnerable wrist; fine: so far, everything’s happening right on time.

“Oh, let me see now,” says the ancient man, tilting his withered head to wince and blink at the sun in bewildered reminiscence, “my first wife passed ayain the spring of -” and for a moment he is touched with terror. The spring of what? Past? Future? What is any spring but a mindless rearrangement of cells in the crust of the spinning earth as it floats in endless circuit of its sun? What is the sun itself but one of a billion insensible stars forever going nowhere into nothingness? Infinity! But soon the mercifucl valves and switches of his brain begin to do their tired work, and “The spring of Nineteen-Ought-Six,” he is able to say. “Or no, wait-” and his blood runs cold again as the galaxies revolve.

“Yes sir,” he can say with authority, “nineteen-Ought-Four,” and the stars tonight will please him as tokens of his ultimate heavenly rest. He has brought order out of chaos.

Yates has a masterly eye for character, incident, detail and description. He marries this to a wholly unsentimental examination of both the Wheelers’ own marriage and to the fictions people create to smooth their days. In Yates’ vision, only John Givings sees unvarnished truth and he is committed to an insane asylum (a note which, for me, was slightly cliched actually, thankfully Yates is a good enough writer to just about pull that off). To live with reality leads only to madness or death. To live in an illusion of one’s own creation leads to disillusion and despair. The only people who come across as other than miserable, are those few with no imagination or desire. The Wheelers consider themselves alone in having a spark of the ideal still within them, but as their neighbours’ attendance at the theatre performance shows, the reality may be much worse in that everyone has some such spark and in each it is unrealised.

Ultimately, this is a tragic and relentless novel, marvellously written but lacking all hope other than briefly raised hope which makes its loss all the worse. The ultimate horror comes with April’s inevitable realisation that Frank in the end is happiest as he is, living in the suburbs, working in a large and faceless corporation, that his dreams and frustrations are a lie. The dream of the suburbs, of the perfectible family, is also a lie, but this novel is not simply a novel of suburban frustration but more an examination of human frustration and the tragedy of the individual human life.

Other visions are of course possible, Yates’ bleak narrative indeed permits of others within his fictional world. Perhaps people in New York are living happy and fulfilled lives, but perhaps also that thought is merely another illusion which Yates as narrator would hold up to the light and expose as nothing but more wishful thinking.

The Book Depository – Note, this link takes you to the Vintage edition, with a rather Mad Men-esque cover. I’d suggest that rather than the version with the film cover, because I’m a snob and struggle to read books with film covers. With reference to Mad Men, Kevinfromcanada rightly notes that the series is plainly heavily inspired by this novel, and although there is no overlap of character or incident I think it’s fair to say Mad Men is in many ways Revolutionary Road the tv series.

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