Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I just got the DVD of the first season of Mad Men, and the timing is odd. The show and this book seem to have a lot in common. It's about a young couple in the '50s, living in Connecticut and he works in Manhattan. The book has the same sort of underlying feeling of menace as the show. The same anxieties are apparent in the characters. The experience of WWII looms. The uncomfortable gender roles chafe everyone.
The central couple in the book seem to match Don and Betty Draper in outward charm and attractiveness, but their self-delusions run very deep. They seem to have drifted into a suburban lifestyle, despite their (outward, at least) contempt for it. They are often enumerating the ways that they are different than their neighbors, to make it clear (to themselves, at least) how they are more worldly or less conventional. They are desperate for something meaningful, but can't admit to their desperation. Their inability to be honest with themselves or anybody else means they are not likable characters, but they are pitiable. It's a fairly depressing read.
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