Richard Yates and Revolutionary Road

I first read Yates’ Revolutionary Road years ago–maybe back at Colorado State. I had been reading as much Richard Ford as I possibly could after reading Rock Springs and Independance Day and in one of those books–in the forward–he lists Yates as the most underappreciated writer in America and I wanted to see if this were true and so I picked up his collection of short stories and Rev Road at the bookstore. I remember I read them outside of assigned reading. I had finished reading a bunch of Salinger and also Cheever and Yates was in that post-war style yet the novel Rev Road is wider in scope and breadth. The writing is less romanticized than Salinger and perhaps more crafted and layered than Cheever. At least in my small reading view.

What struck me about the movie version I saw last week with D was how April was drawn and how the community was the focus of the book–at first I thought this different than the book and after going back to the text I see how the screen adaptation was right on target. The Wheeler’s and the neighbors and everyone in the book make up this community of the complacent–the suburban mediocrity that is safe and pleasant but also turns to kill individual identity. After the film and the book I’d like to go back to Yates’ life and see if his life was similar in dreaming and hoping for time to write instead of time with the family. I wonder if April was drawn after his own wife–as in auto-fiction.

I also want to mention how I heard in a DVD commentary of Seinfeld that the grumpy writer in Season 1 who is Elaine’s old man was based on Richard Yates after Larry David dated his daughter. –Why is this important? I don’t know but I want to get it down so I remember in this journal.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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