Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
There were comments about how verbose or wordy the writing was, and I would just defend the piece by saying that, in context anyway, the rhythm of the paragraph is perfect. The character whose intelligence this part is filtered through is a young executive who is about to change his life by moving to France with his wife and kissing goodbye the life he senses is inauthentic. (A lot of those Mad Men types seem to realize deep down they’re big frauds.) But here the narrative describes what he’s doing but also what he thinks he should be doing — if he’s really a man. So Yates has created a wonderful distance between the character and what the character’s idea of himself is, or ought to be. He’s there on the train acting like a man (in his eyes) would act, yet he is not really that man.
The long sentences and their forging rhythm suggest movement, almost out of control as the train speeds along, but there’s also the image of the man striking a strong, defiant pose — a meaningless one. Inauthentic. And one that nobody notices but himself.
We get the feeling, thanks to the distance Yates has provided, that this guy is empty.
That’s why I like it.
Here’s Yates’s wiki page. He didn’t get enough recognition in his own day, even though guys like Kurt Vonnegut called Revolutionary Road “one of the best books by a member of my generation.”
Interestingly, Yates was the model for Elaine’s father in the Seinfeld episode, “The Jacket.” Seems Larry David went out with Yates’s daughter at some point. Yates intimidated him, you’d have to conclude.