Kate Atkinson, author of Case Histories, recommends Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road (Vintage, $14.95).
Yates’ 1961 novel Revolutionary Road is an exquisitely painful forensic examination of postwar disillusion in the dark heart of suburbia. The novel takes place in a kind of banal dystopia, an emotionally barren landscape, occupied by a married couple, April and Frank Wheeler, whose mediocre lives are a catastrophe waiting to happen. The self-deluded Wheelers wish for something greater than they are capable of achieving but doom themselves to failure through lack of talent and personal cowardice. In many ways, it’s a bleak tale, and Yates is a ruthless and unsentimental writer, but he is also darkly funny and possesses a fine sense of irony. This is a book that can stand shoulder to shoulder with The Great Gatsby in its exploration of the dream gone wrong.