It recently dawned upon me that my summer reading interests all possessed a common thread that provided each book with a rich and satisfying dimension. White Noise by Don Delillo, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates and The Sportswriter by Richard Ford each tackle with individual flare and style the subject of American suburbia both as a subject for commentary and geographic setting. These books depict with both horror and humor, the world of the post war dream, its cultural minutia, norms and symbolic representations. Ford’s trilogy of The Sportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land takes on suburban life from a much more gracious and complimentary point of view, following the fascinating journey of Frank Bascombe. All three books, set in the suburbs, explore the way in which illusions (both personal and cultural) are ruptured and shown to possess a much more dark and dubious side to them that contrasts with the image of suburbia as a place of serenity, certainty and contented bliss.
In the case of Yate’s masterpiece, soon to hit the celluloid big screen with Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet as its protagonists, suburban malaise and its false promise of domestic harmony serve as the driving force behind the main character’s doomed, Gatsbyian ruin. For lovers of great American fiction, these three titles will not disappoint.