2:20 pm Jul. 30, 2012
For ten days, we'll be suggesting some of our favorite audiobooks for the summer, in a series of articles brought to you by our partner, Audible.com.
Audible.com is promoting a special offer to download one our selections or a selection of your own for free, plus a free 30-day trial membership.
Click the link at the bottom of this post for details. Previously: A Visit From the Goon Squad.
By Richard Yates
Narrated by Mark Bramhall
There's very little I can say about Revolutionary Road that wasn't expressed better by Sara Vilkomerson and the people she interviews in this 2008 article, titled "Can Love Survive?" from The New York Observer. Sample:
Revolutionary Road is, in part, a portrait of a marriage. But it is also a dissection of personal failure, of what happens when we disappoint ourselves, when we end up on the road we never meant to travel. As you might imagine, the view from that road, when one really stops to look, is very bleak indeed.
Specifically, the road in Revolutionary Hill Estates in Western Connecticut where Frank and April Wheeler's marriage comes undone amid bouts of drinking, slaps to the face, embarrassing affairs and pathetic community-theater ambitions is cold to their trials. You may more easily recognize the characters as they were played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, in the movie version of 2008 which received acclaim for its capturing of Richard Yates' novel, and the suburban world in which Frank and April are destroying themselves. But to limit oneself to that mode of consuming Revolutionary Road deprives you of Yates' prose. Here's a sample:
The Revolutionary Hill Estates had not been designed to accommodate a tragedy. Even at night, as if on purpose, the development held no looming shadows and no gaunt silhouettes. It was invincibly cheerful, a toyland of white and pastel houses whose bright, uncurtained windows winked blandly through a dappling of green and yellow leaves. . . . A man running down these streets in desperate grief was indecently out of place. Except for the whisk of his shoes on the asphalt and the rush of his own breath, it was so quiet that he could hear the sounds of television in the dozing rooms behind the leaves - a blurred comedian's shout followed by dim, spastic waves of laughter and applause, and then the striking-up of a band.
Mark Bramhall, a veteran of theater and television based in Los Angeles, has a pretty baritone and a conversational tone, and given the setting, his default "classic American" stage accent has that Johnny Carsonesque, slightly vintage feel that seems to put you right there in the Connecticut of the early '60s.