For many years I had neglected this novel in spite of its sterling reputation simply because I misconstrued the title and thought the book had something to do with radical politics in the 1960s. In fact the title designates the suburban street on which our protagonists live. I have not seen the movie version, with Leonardo DiCaprio, though now that I have devoured the book I am most curious to do so.
Imagine that Pete Campbell and Betty Draper of Mad Men are married and you begin to have an idea of what Frank and April Wheeler are like. (OK, not Pete Campbell, but the fellow who went to Princeton and fancied himself a progressive, with a black girlfriend as proof.) They have two kids—a girl, six, and a boy, four—in a New York suburb that resembles Stamford, Connecticut. Most of the action takes place in the six-month period between spring and fall 1955, though flashbacks amplify the tale as needed. Frank works for Knox Business Machines, an outfit rather like IBM, and Yates has a very sharp idea of the technological changes to come in the computer era that was still, in 1961, the stuff of visionaries and science fiction writers. Frank likes to think that he will retain the bohemian values he had when he lived alone in Greenwich Village. This is but one of his illusions.
Read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, a great American novel. If you click here, you'll get the full scoop. -- DL