Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coffee Table Book: F. Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise"

Growing up, I was required to read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby for school. I was already fond of reading so it wasn't the general requirement that concerned me, but more the genre. By that point in my life (my early tweens), I hadn't read anything from the 1920s WWI era or, more specifically, anything that was more philosophical than, say, The Diary of Anne Frank and Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. I enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby, but in re-reading it as an adult, realized that I miss a lot of the introspection of the author through the characters.

Reading This Side of Paradise carried a lot of the same sentiments for me. I appreciate the character development throughout the book, but most of the time the philosophical blabbing really detract. I don't need a novel loaded with action sequences, love affairs, addictions, war, etc. BUT! I do need a strong enough plot to keep my interest as well as a healthy balance of plot and philosophy.

This book was mildly entertaining at its best. As the book continues, I found it more of a challenge to keep coming back to it. At the very end, it was really just a test to see if I would force myself to finish it (not just to say I had, but to see if it redeemed itself, if even at the very very end).

The most provoking thing I can say (at this pre-coffee moment in time) is that the book did make me think more about men's names. The main character is a young man named Amory. I love that name for a man and have never met one. The tail-end of the Victorian Era was a time for fantastically unique names, especially men's in my opinion. Other men's names in This Side of Paradise are Alec, Burne, and Kerry. Other popular names during that time were: Harland (love the sound of it as a slightly Southern "Hah-lon"), Garrett, Wyatt, and Alistair.

Conclusion: Amory's quest for knowledge, comfort in society, and finally, self-awareness is Fitzgerald's first (and long-winded) attempt at addressing failure (in love and in life) and the overall effect of power in many forms. I'm excited for a change of pace...

4 comments:

  1. all that, for a coffee table book? wow.

    i left you 2 awards! go get them :)

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