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Revolutionary road ; The Easter parade ; Eleven kinds of loneliness (edition 2009)

by Richard Yates, Richard Price (Introduction)

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181565,444 (4.38)3
Member:HC59
Title:Revolutionary road ; The Easter parade ; Eleven kinds of loneliness
Authors:Richard Yates
Other authors:Richard Price (Introduction)
Info:London : Everyman's Library, 2009
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates

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I haven't read the stories at the end yet, but the two novels kick ass. Specifically white, middle class, suburban ass. And they kick it until it bleeds and hurts and comes back for more. As I will. ( )
1 vote stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
(Recommended by William C.29 June 2011)
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
The 1950’s were generally known as the years of prosperity, economic growth, suburban development and opportunity for all. It is remembered as an era of pure, simple family life, little divorce, few unwed mothers, housewives in floral dresses and crisp clean aprons sending their hard working men off to white and blue collar jobs. I’ve got visions of Mom spending her days in the kitchen whipping up gourmet meals and clean, well-mannered, soft spoken, happy children innocently playing in the background. But in Richard Yates view, this was all an illusion.

"Revolutionary Road" is the story of Frank and April Wheeler. On the surface they fit the description of the stereotypical couple of the 1950’s, living in the suburbs of Connecticut, raising their children. They are successful, happy and content. But look beneath the shiny veneer and you see two very unhappy people struggling in a dysfunctional marriage.

Frank was in love with the idea of love. He wanted a meaningful relationship and craved affection. A Columbia Grad, he thought he scored the prettiest girl in town when he married April, a charming and aspiring young actress. He had big ideas for their life together but he lacked confidence, and his fear of failure and rejection paralyzed him into a lack of ambition, skepticism, and disdain for playing by the rules. At home he lacked honest communication with April and his impatience and temper prevented a good relationship with his young children. Had "Revolutionary Road" been made into a movie in the 1950’s it would have been an academy award winning role for James Dean.

April clearly was a troubled soul. No past experiences ever prepared her for the simple suburban life, being a devoted wife and attentive mother. Frank and April were both searching for something just out of reach, burying their loneliness in meaningless affairs, alcohol, and elusive dreams of grandeur. Their marriage seems doomed to failure. It is hard to understand what attracted them to each other in the first place. But to admit they are not in love, is to admit failure. So they struggle along with the tedium of their live in a charade, trying to convince themselves that life will get better.

The supporting characters are vivid, real people; their friends, Frank’s work cronies, the voluptuous secretary, the busy-body neighbor lady and her mentally challenged son.

It is easy to understand why Yates is sometimes compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald. His prose is crystal clear, exact, and concise. Every word directing the reader towards the climax, and as with Nicole and Dick Diver in Fitzgerald’s "Tender is the Night", it is no surprise when Frank and April’s relationship spirals out of control.

THE EASTER PARADE
An introduction in Everyman’s Library Edition by Richard Price describes Yates as “a master purveyor of the crushed suburban life, of the great con known as the American promise”.

"Easter Parade" is a tragic tale of the Grimes sisters which illustrates the complexities of family life in the 1950’s... but this is a timeless story. Sarah, older by 4 years, marries a man of prestige and wealth, settles down in his family estate and raises three boys. Emily, accustomed to living in Sarah’s shadow and reminded from a young age that she is not the pretty one... not the popular one... becomes an independent self-supporting career woman.

The girls had a rough childhood which included an absentee father and a mother who was a lush. They moved frequently which resulted in always being “the new kids on the block”. Sarah and Emily grew up with no roots and no sense of security. In spite of this, Yates leaves little room for sympathy for the characters. None of them are very likable. Both women seem to despise their mother, but each follows in her footsteps in their own unique way. Emily thinks she is sophisticated, worldly, intuitive, rational, and giving, but she is proud, selfish and arrogant. She is unable to establish long lasting relationships in her life, and seems to be attracted to men who are unavailable, unsuited, or unworthy of her love. And Sarah, poor Sarah, fragile, overindulged and used to getting her way; being the pretty one did not guarantee happiness.

"Easter Parade" is about a lot of issues: spousal abuse, promiscuity, women’s lib, and dysfunctional relationships. It tells a story of mis-spent years chasing illusions, lost love, and selfish dreams. Philosophically, you won’t like the journey of the Grimes sister’s lives. They are each, blindly, on a path to self destruction. But you will go along for the ride because Yates is a brilliant and compelling story teller.

The lesson seems to be that you only get out of life what you put into it. But even then, everything is subjective. Have you ever read the results of someones self assessed personality test? I think most people are either incapable of accurate assessment or are just totally dishonest with themselves. The high point of the entire book is when Emily has a moment of clarity and says, “Yes, I’m tired. And do you know a funny thing? I’m almost fifty years old and I’ve never understood anything in my whole life.”

"Easter Parade" is my favorite of Yates writing

ELEVEN KINDS OF LONELINESS
This collection of short stories illustrates that loneliness can be found everywhere: in a class room, the work place, a hospital, the military, at home alone with your spouse, or amongst neighbors, family, and friends. Causes vary. Some people are unable to communicate. Others fear rejection or failure. Sometimes vast differences of opinion create insurmountable barriers. Some people yearn to be popular. Others suffer in relationships because of pride or envy. Richard Yates uses a wide range of colorful personalities to demonstrate the emotion of loneliness. His strength is his ability to develop strong, memorable characters.

Published in 1962 the stories center around New York City, and although many scenes focus on scenarios that seem a bit outdated, the emotion expressed is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

My favorite stories are Doctor Jack-O’-Lantern which is about a new boy in a 4th grade class who is desperate to be liked, and The B.A.R. Man, the story about an army veteran who has an inferiority complex. a chip on his shoulder, and a hot temper; a dangerous combination. ( )
  LadyLo | Oct 21, 2011 |
One of the best writer's of all time ( )
  MerilynP | Nov 5, 2009 |
How do you describe what you have just experienced when you've just finished reading a perfectly-written book? Richard Yates' masterpiece, Revolutionary Road, is a modern classic in the true sense of the word. He captures life in the fifties and the ennui and longing that lay hidden behind the grey flannel suits and the white aprons. This book works on every level, just one being the way he successfully creates a central couple as protagonists and is able to provide, in a theme and variation style, two other couples whose lives in different ways mirror those of the central couple, the Wheelers - Jack and April. Yates uses motifs with superb subtlety to provide a continuity that lasts throughout, even surviving the climactic finale.

What amazes me even more is that this was a first novel - it is unusual for the first novel of an author to be his best. I also find interesting that this novel was bested by Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, a book that I personally like, for the National Book award in 1962 (Heller's Catch 22 was also a finalist). That suggests the quality of the competition in that year was very high (I wish I could say the same about every year). I found this to be a book that works well on many levels and one that I strongly recommend be read by all. ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 4, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307270890, Hardcover)

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Three classic works—including the virtuosic Revolutionary Road, soon to be a major motion picture—that exemplify the remarkable gifts of this great American master.

Richard Yates’s first novel, Revolutionary Road is the unforgettable portrait of a marriage built on dreams that tragically never come to fruition. In The Easter Parade, he tells the story of two sisters whose parents’ divorce overshadows their entire lives. And in the stories in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, we witness men and women striving for better lives amid discouragement and disillusion.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:41 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Revolutionary road: A bright Connecticut couple, Frank and April Wheeler, living on the assumption that greatness is just around the corner, mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves. The Easter parade: Even as little girls, Sarah and Emily are very different from each other. Emily looks up to her wiser and more stable older sister and is jealous of her relationship with their absent father, and later her seemingly golden marriage. The path she chooses for herself is less safe and conventional and her love affairs never really satisfy her. Although the bond between them endures, gradually the distance between the two women grows, until a tragic event throws their relationship into focus one last time. Eleven kinds of loneliness: Short stories.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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