Have you read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates? Huh? You have? Then why the hell haven't you told me about it? What's your problem, anyway? And where has this book been all my life?
There's a movie version of Revolutionary Road on the way, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and directed by Sam Mendes. It's set to be released at Christmastime, and is widely expected to be a major player in the Oscar race. But here I have to betray this column's reason for being. F*** the movie. Read the book.
Published in 1961, Yates's first novel was more acclaimed than popular. It is a merciless, intense and pitch-black social satire – funny only in the most uncomfortable way, like being cleverly mocked by someone who sees clean through to your soul. The jacket pitches it as being about "the opulent desolation of the American suburbs," but Revolutionary Road is not another of those books that merely mocks the empty lives of well-to-do suburbanites. It's about our attitudes toward life and love and each other. Almost a half-century after it was published, it contains as much devastating insight into human nature as just about anything else I've ever read.