Six Degrees of Separation: Revolutionary Road

This game is like “6 Degrees from Kevin Bacon” only with books. You can join in too; the rules are here.


  1. We start this month with Revolutionary Road, a book which I…haven’t read. Sorry! The film came out when I was a teenager, though, and I got the gist: suburban people make each other miserable in painful ways.
  2. A book that I have read about suburban people making each other miserable in painful ways (not one of my favourite genres, I confess) is Suzanne Berne’s A Crime in the Neighbourhood. The misery is of a different flavour, and the child narrator is a particularly good touch. The scene of Mr Green’s barbeque, as I think I already said on this blog, is pure agony to read.
  3. Suzanne Berne won the Orange Prize (now the Baileys Prize) for that novel, which is published by Penguin Books. Penguin also publishes On Beauty by Zadie Smith, another Orange Prize winner that retells E.M. Forster’s Howards End with a modern twist.
  4. Smith’s collection of essays, Changing My Mind, includes pieces on several nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novels, one of which is George Eliot’s marvelous novel Middlemarch.
  5. I first read Middlemarch at seventeen, when I was capable of understanding the words but had so little life experience that much of the book’s emotional subtlety passed me by, without me even noticing that I was missing it. Also in this category, I think, is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (amongst quite a few others).
  6. On the Chaos’s bookshelves are a good many other books that I recall reading years ago, but need to reacquaint myself with. Top of the pile (probably after Christmas) will be Dodie Smith’s lovely coming-of-age novel I Capture the Castle, one of my favourite books of all time.

We stayed pretty white and Eurocentric this time around, which is a shame—hopefully next month (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson) will be better!

11 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Revolutionary Road

  1. You’ve summed Revolutionary Road up perfectly 🙂 Have you read any Yates? I ration him out – brilliant but all of his stuff is quietly depressing. My favourite would be The Easter Parade.

    I’ll have to check out the Berne – sounds like my kind of book.

    Now here’s the weird thing – I read On Beauty when it first came out. I’ve read Howard’s End. I had NO IDEA about the connection between the two (and obviously didn’t realise it at the time of reading On Beauty). So strange… makes me want to go back and re-read both (although I have Swing Time waiting).

    You’re the second person to say that I Capture the Castle is one of their favourites within a week. Clearly I must read it.

    1. I fear I’ve read no Yates at all! I do love the Vintage Classics covers, though—so stylish.

      The On Beauty/Howard’s End thing is pretty subtle; the first sentence is blatant parody but the rest of it is a nicely achieved modernisation that still works in its own right, I think. But do go back and re-read, it’s fun to spot the parallels!

      I Capture the Castle is simply wonderful.

  2. Just polishing off my post for this month. I love your description of the Yates – a book I’ve not read either – nor Berne…

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