An Essay On American Beauty

'' He could be grateful in a sense that he had no particular area of interest,'' the narrator notes, airily sizing up Frank's life: '' In avoiding specific goals he had avoided specific limitations.For the time being the world, life itself, could be his chosen field.'' In Broyard's creaky terms, '' Revolutionary Road'' seems to want it both ways -- the ''entomological'' and the metaphysical; the literal and the symbolic.Yates -- who was both famously decorous and famously plain-spoken -- once remarked to an interviewer that he felt he had written too little in his life, and that his was the misfortune to have written his best book first.

Still, April Wheeler proves resourceful and devises a romantic solution to her and Frank's growing malaise. There Frank can ''find'' himself; she can join the secretarial pool at NATO, and the kids can learn French.

Suburbanites themselves seem but hungry, aimless foragers in pursuit of not a better life but only an easier, less responsible one. '' He couldn't even tell whether he was angry or contrite, whether it was forgiveness he wanted or the power to forgive,'' Yates's narrator remarks caustically about Frank Wheeler. And yet, there is so much in this novel that's sarcastic, comical, mischievous, hyperbolic, as to argue not for the literal but the emblematic -- Broyard's ''metaphysical.'' All these extraliteral names: Mrs.

None of the characters glimpsed in '' Revolutionary Road'' have much of a clue about who it is they are. And as her life is swept along toward the novel's withering climax, April Wheeler, in despair nearly unto death, peers at her neighbor, the feckless Shep Campbell, there in the gloom of a back seat where they've fallen upon each other in a drunken moment of befuddlement and sexual dismay: '' Honestly,'' April says, stating no more than what's obvious. Givings the ungiving realtor; Shep the bird-dogging neighbor; the improbable Oat Fields, Frank's father's Dickensian boss; the implicitly grubby Ms.

He did not attend college after high school; served in the Army during World War II; was twice divorced and was the father of three daughters.

For a time after the war he worked as a publicity writer for the Remington Rand Corporation, and for a brief period in the late 60's served as a speechwriter for Senator Robert Kennedy.


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