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"Revolutionary Road" by Richard Yates

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Frank and April Wheeler live in the New York suburbs in 1955, which they somehow cannot explain ... the one thing they agree upon is that moving to Paris might save them from the bourgeois existence they find themselves in. This novel is strongly tinged with social satire - the Wheelers and their friends have all the advantages of modern life, but think all of it is somehow reprehensible. Enter John Givings, a paranoid schizophrenic, who alone among the characters, sees and appreciates the efficacy of the Wheelers' Paris dream. The dream falls apart of course - April becomes pregnant, Frank newly committed to the career in the middle of the "hopeless emptiness" of the American Dream. Once the pipe dream of Paris cannot come about, John speaks out loud of the betrayal in it, the surrender to the material and orthodox American nightmare.
I think it's a wonderful thing Yates does with this character: he puts the clear-headed voice of conscience in the mouth of a mental patient, turning all of existence on its head. This is balanced, wry, funny, and completely unblinking - and for all those reasons, I appreciate and recommend it.
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