Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Bit of Dribble

**A bit of a spoiler alert for the book, Revolutionary Road.

It's been a while since I hated a book. "Hate" is a strong word. I don't like using it. I should say...It's been a while since I didn't care for a book. Just because I don't care for a book, doesn't mean I won't read it though. I can't not read a book, once I've started it. My training in college, as an English major, probably did this to me. Also, the fact that I paid for this book.

I'm reading, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Let me first say, that the writing is very well done. It is good, creative writing. I've never read Yates before, but I can tell that he is...was a good writer. Just the fact that his writing has actually caused me to blog about this think about it, react, says it is good writing.

I can put it down though. I can walk away. And let me tell you why. Only pages in, I felt this overwhelming feeling of dread, a sort of depression settling in. I could hear the condescending voices of the main characters, I could see them just as well as if they were sitting right across from me, smell the brandy on their breath (again, kudos to Yates). I know I could not be around the main characters long. I know this is fiction, that these are characters, but there are people out there that think and act like these people. I avoid them.

There are certain kinds of people I have learned do not work well in my life...people that think they are better than I am, and people that are negative. I generally love people. I will smile at you. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, as I hope you would for me. I will listen. I will try to help. I will not sit there and let you make me feel bad about myself, bad about whatever you feel my situation is. I will not get sucked into negativity.

It's not like I don't appreciate the theme of this book. It's actually one of my favorites. The human condition. The real life grit, imperfect people in imperfect situations, and mostly imperfect relationships. One of my favorite writer's is Raymond Carver. His writing was what inspired me to actually write. To want to write. To love to write. If you haven't read or seen, Shortcuts, do.

I'm trying to work out why this book has gotten under my skin. I think it's because it really talks down my life. It sticks it's nose up to me. It is comparing me to "cattle". That doesn't sit well.

The story is based in the fifties, but a lot of it rings true for today. The main characters are selfish people, living the "American Dream". The characters live in suburbia, and despise it. Loathe everything about it. Mock their jobs, their "cookie cutter home", their tree lined street, their "best friends", the "ho hum" lives, the "dribble" of suburbia. They are "this close" to regretting their children. They are "too good", ashamed how they could get sucked into the mind numbing "ride" of the dream that is America. They fantasize of "a more exciting life"...Paris, the city (but only the "cultured" parts). As if "ho hum" and "dribble" doesn't happen in Paris or "the city".

I don't care about these characters. Which is not my normal reaction when reading these kinds of stories. I usually find myself rooting for the main characters, regardless. Even for people in the deepest, darkest places. And I feel let down for them when things don't work out in the end. I wanted more for them. What you find in this story is the main characters are "flawed", just like the rest of us. Predictable, just like the rest of us. The usual outcome of this kind of story. What is new for me, is that I want them to fail, to fall apart. Or just disappear. Which is probably exactly the point (again, well done, Yates).

It reminded me, that there really are people out there that think that way about me, about my life, without even knowing me, or stepping foot into my world. Like I said, I will not get sucked into negativity. You can put your nose up to me all you want. I choose happiness. Laughter. I like the fact that my streets are lined with trees and that my house looks the same as my neighbor's. I love the fact that my kids can ride their bikes up and down the sidewalk, play basketball with the boys across the street and that I recognize my neighbors all over town.

I can see why people love a different kind of life than mine. I admire all kinds of people and situations. Someday I yearn for something else...a cottage, on a hill lined w/wildflowers, or nestled in a cove on a windy beach. I yearn for simplicity. I yearn for something else, once in a while. It doesn't mean I don't see the blessing in where I am right now though. And I truly think I could find fulfillment anywhere. The city, the country, a 500 sq. ft. apartment...the moon. Regardless, I'd still be imperfect, flawed, occasionally "ho hum", but mostly laughing, me. That's the point.


Dee from Downunder said...

You summed it up beautifully, YOU could find fulfillment anywhere. You are essentially a happy and content person.

I know I like to read to "escape" a little... but I think that like you, I would not enjoy a book like that.

Sunshine said...

Thanks Dee! Well, I like to *think* I could. :)

And you *should* read it. I'm curious what you would say. It's actually gotten good reviews.