Monday, December 08, 2008

"Like men betrayed"

From the new issue of The New Yorker, an excerpt from James Wood's assessment of Richard Yates' amazing novel, Revolutionary Road, describing the main character, Frank Wheeler:

Frank works in New York for Knox Business Machines but prides himself that he takes his job ironically, that he cares nothing for it, and that his real life is elsewhere. Yates was playing a morbid joke on himself when he created Frank Wheeler, because Frank is Yates without the writing: he is saving himself for an invisible “creative” life that he is too unimaginative to envision.
This is definitely one of my greatest fears for my future, or my present. The idea of wrapping your external life in irony and disdain to protect some genuine core that you are ultimately unable to bring to fruition -- too feeble or scared or (yes, let's go there) impotent.

Amazing that Yates was able to capture this wariness that seems so typical of the professional male; amazing how it rings true through the decades. And with that, back to work.

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