3. Revolutionary Road (1961), Richard Yates
Revolutionary Road took Richard Yates seven years to write. During these seven years, he was constantly dealing with marital strife, severe depression and myriad other issues associated with his manic depression. His situation was exacerbated by the fact that he was trying to support his idea of a ‘normal family’ at this time. In his biography, A Tragic Honesty, The Life and Work of Richard Yates (2004) by Blake Bailey, he describes Yates sometimes so depressed that his wife had to learn to leave him alone during catatonic-like phases where he would sit at his desk for hours, slumped over and merely blinking, staring at the wall. This was how depressed Yates was. And so it’s only natural that his first novel, while not his ‘cleanest,’ is one of the most in-depth studies on self-deception, denial and suburban fallout that I’ve read. With Revolutionary Road (recently made into a feature film by Sam Mendes that we’ve probably all heard about), it’s my feeling that Yates, at times, shows the sort of explosive intellect and verbal fireworks that are most often attributed to DFW’s more psychological stuff. Either way – Revolutionary Road is excellent fare for the depressed individual.