Monday, April 12, 2010

Richard Yates---Ballad of A Very Thin Man

I had this illusion that I can write. A little bit of style taken from Garcia Marquez and Jorghes, a little bit of word-play taken from good old Dylan, a little bit of philosophy misinterpreted from Kafka and Camus...I had rather a growing pride of a 'one-night's-jackpot-hitter-in-Vegas' telling me to write more and 'the greatness is around the corner'.

Tonight all those futile vanity, all those feeling of being God in my own world of words sit naked in front of me. I completed reading the single book of Richard Yates that I started reading back in 2009 after watching the movie adaptation by Sam Mendes and long long time after reading a book(The last one I remember was 'The Outsider' by Camus, read and finished in an overcrowded train coming from Burdwan) I have a feeling that ol' EC would sing out as ,"Drowning in a river of tears".

Hang on one second. This one is supposed to be a blog about music. Then from where the hell Richard Yates, the writer's writer of American words who was pushed into oblivion gradually even during his lifetime until his recent comeback in NYT's Bestseller list(Thanks to Mr. Di Caprio and Ms. Winslate's Titanic 2 pose in the cover) through the paperback version of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, drops in?

Well,my constant reader (If there is anyone like that out there...thanks Dr. Livingstone), in my defense I would like to say only one thing : while reading REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, so many tunes rang through my head, so many sad and erratic and folksy scores from REM, from Dylan even from Rabindranath that if I had the talent(sic) of Rob Marshall or Buz Luhrmann or even of Gurinder Chadda(Remember Jane Austen's Santa Singh adaptation) , I could make a musical out of it. The musical would be a precious piece of extreme boredom. The novel is far from it.

And like I used to say a long time ago : You can put anybody's life in the context of Floyd's The Wall; The same remains true for the story. Written from a '50's perspective, of Frank and April Wheeler , who are alone with everyone and always believing that "this is what salvation must be after a while"(F_ing Bob, Leave my brain once),of slow erosion of an imperfect American family torn between "staying and returning to south", REVOLUTIONARY ROAD,unlike its protagonists, can fit in to the scenarios of the young generation of this brave new world. Take a look over the cubicle, the bored IT worker who once loved Automata and Dus Capital at the same breath, who once fell in love with the girl who could listen to his ideas of writing software for deprived and downtrodden while resisting his hand's rather capitalistic approach and widening her eyes in an ignorant sweetness, and you got your Frank Wheeler of 2010. Look inside one of those matchbox shaped home, sold for enormous price with even more enormous titles like "Sernity, Vedic Village,Infinity etc" and in one of those sleepy afternoon you will find that girl, now gradually the sorrow of a life deprived of a magic called love putting the inevitable shadow of age layer after layer on her, doing chores while listening to a half-forgotten tune of Suman Chatterjee ; and you have your April Wheeler.

In this all engulfing new age where I also belong with you--- in your next bus, in sharing your cubicle, in a brawl to overtake your mini-sedan--I don't know what will happen to all those Frank and April Wheelers , already a very endangered species, of our time. Will this race to have a new apartment, a car, a status, a comfortably conformed way of living make them what Yates did predict in his book? Like a shell, like a hollow of a man...a complete antithesis to individualism. We don't have another Richard Yates to chronicle that. So all I have is (Yeah, you guessed it right...another Dylan, for a man so ignorant in English poetry my only true calling...always):

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

1 comment:

Siddhartha said...

I found his short stories even better, even more insightful, even more harsh with words...