Review of Brigid Rooney’s Suburban Space, The Novel and Australian Modernity

Abstract

The very word suburban often carries a pejorative meaning that aligns it with an unsightly urban sprawl. In reality, many modern suburban homes and streets are tarnished with a lack of individuality, presenting as part of commodified en masse living conditions where every home looks alike down to the ubiquitous and inhospitable roller door garage frontages. Much has been written about suburban spaces and the need to liberate one’s self from their insularity. A widely known example is Richard Yates’s famed Revolutionary Road (1961), chronicling a couple’s efforts to retrieve their marriage through daring plans to leave their leafy suburban life in Connecticut in order to make a break for Paris – a glittering world city that promises to replace sombre mediocrity with freedom and glamour.

The very word suburban often carries a pejorative meaning that aligns it with an unsightly urban sprawl. In reality, many modern suburban homes and streets are tarnished with a lack of individuality, presenting as part of commodified en masse living conditions where every home looks alike down to the ubiquitous and inhospitable roller door garage frontages. Much has been written about suburban spaces and the need to liberate one’s self from their insularity. A widely known example is Richard Yates’s famed Revolutionary Road (1961), chronicling a couple’s efforts to retrieve their marriage through daring plans to leave their leafy suburban life in Connecticut in order to make a break for Paris – a glittering world city that promises to replace sombre mediocrity with freedom and glamour.

Revolutionary Road carries with it the influence of Henry James’s great late novel The Ambassadors (1903), which depicts a middle-aged man’s belated coming of…

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Published 28 April 2020 in Volume 35, No. 1.. Subjects: Suburban life, Brigid Rooney.

Cite as: Gibson, Suzie. ‘Review of Brigid Rooney’s Suburban Space, The Novel and Australian Modernity.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 35, no. 1, 2020, doi: 10.20314/als.ab77f7856a.