Book Trailer For Madam President

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Back about four months ago a reviewer said, "Rocket Man reminds me of Revolutionary Road." I thought, well, interesting title. That was it. Another review came in a few weeks later, same comparison. I still did nothing. Then came another. And another. Then I heard about the movie and I finally went to a bookstore. Richard Yates struggled in 1961 to get readers. His book came out and basically dropped from site. Now why is that? Here is a book that pegs suburban living in the 1950's, nails down the monotony, the feeling that we should be doing something more than just going to work and coming home to a house in a suburb among other people doing exactly the same thing. Maybe the reason Richard Yates novel found a hard audience is because people do not like a mirror put in front of them. Now the novel and the movie are deemed brilliant. Seen through the safety of almost fifty years we can safely relate to this suburban couple. I have had people react violently to Rocket Man. Some had defended the suburbs. The Daily Herald just came out and termed the article "Author's new Novel Takes on Suburbs" assumption that an author is attacking an institution is implicit in the headline. There have been fears from other people that Rocket Man would be alienating, neighbors would stop talking to us, we would be politely shown the door back to the city. In Revolutionary Road, the couple see themselves apart, some would say in the year 2009 they see themselves as the "cultural elite." People who have reviewed the novel have been dismayed with this view and see their eventual comeuppance as just deserts. We are told from day one to not rock the boat and we don't appreciate our art pointing out our foibles, posing the question that there must be a better way. Yates named his novel, Revolutionary Road, thinking that the placidity of the fifties had to give way to something. It did, the sixties. But here we are in 2009 with another novel questioning the way we live in the year 2009...I wonder what the teens will be like?

Books by William Hazelgrove