Jonathan Evison: Recently, DH commented on my inclination to read books which, whether due to their style, approach, subject matter, or otherwise, dwell outside of my comfort zone as a writer and a human being. Revolutionary Road is such a book. Being doggedly optimistic (as I have every reason to be), I’m not a big fan of realism, which I find in many cases to be little more than plain old pessimism dressed up fashionably in black or gray flannel. That said, Revolutionary Road is one of the finest books I’ve ever read.
Yates writes with a precision that inspires and humbles. Rarely, in my thirty-odd years of voracious book consumption have I tasted such incisive, artfully wrought prose. While Yates writes with little of Faulkner’s bombast, none of Joyce’s playfulness, or Nabokov’s smugness, and only a hint of Fitzgerald’s silkiness, I consider the writing in Revolutionary Road to be of the order and magnitude of the aforementioned wordsmiths. The effect can be downright suffocating, like reading underwater—and indeed, Yates’ language reads like water. This, more than anything else, is the reason why the recent Mendes adaptation fell flat for me. In spite of spot-on performances and scrupulous adherence to the text, cinematography simply cannot achieve the effect of language. Books can do things films cannot (yeah, yeah, I know, vice versa). Lovely cinematography (too lovely, in fact), cannot match the aching precision of Yates’ prose for the sheer suffocating effect of the Wheeler’s despair, as it fails by virtue of its very approach, to capture the interior lives of Frank and April. Yes, Leo does a mean chin-quiver, and Kate is masterful in the art of looking emotionally bereft, but neither can match the nuance, depth, and overall virtuosity of Yates’ prose.
I’ve got the Easter Parade sitting around here in one of my stacks, and I’m excited to dig in!