Sunday, October 12, 2008
A Little Sunday Reading v. 17
I recently finished F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. It took me forever to get through. In part, I moved slowly to take in all the decadence, expression and beautiful language. In part, I moved slowly because the plot did. I attacked this book when I first started. I was immediately taken with Amory Blaine and his sadness, introspection and curiosity. I was totally with him through his last year of college. And then. In that last year, he got a bit...needy and whiny. And I'm not sure if this is an indict of Amory or Fitzgerald but he had no point. In part, I think it was the point. But I don't think it was Fitzgerald's idea that Amory have no insight other than what others saw in him. But I could be wrong.

The truly lovely parts of the book came when Amory was in love. And he was in love often. Amory in love was the redeeming part of the book. When I was reading those sections, I was convinced I was going to read the book over and over! But then....imminent doom would descend upon his relationships and, in turn, the plot! And perhaps that is where my discomfort lies--with the fact that I only liked Amory when he was in love. I didn't like him on his own terms.

However, the writing was breathtaking. Wanna see? Ok.

I know I'm not a regular fellow, yet I loathe anybody else that isn't. I can't decide whether to cultivate my mind and be a great dramatist or to thumb my nose at the 'Golden Treasury' and be a Princeton slicker.

He had a snapshot of Isabelle, enshrined in an old watch, and at eight almost every night he would turn off all the lights except the desk lamp and, sitting by the open windows with the picture before him, write her rapturous letters.

No, I'm romantic--a sentimental person thinks things will last--a romantic person hopes against hope that they won't. Sentiment is emotional.

As long as they knew each other Eleanor and Amory could be 'on a subject' and stop talking with the definite thought of it in their heads, yet ten minutes later speak aloud and find that their minds had followed the same channels and led them each to a parallel idea, an idea that others would have found absolutely unconnected with the first...Oh, she was magnificent--pale skin, the color of marble in the star-light, slender brows, and eyes that glittered green as emeralds in the blinding glare.

We can't possibly have a summer love. SO many people have tried that the name's become proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It's a sad season of life without has no day.

He was in an eddy again, a deep, lethargic gulf, without desire to work or write, love or dissipate. For the first time in his life he rather longed for death to roll over his generation, obliterating their petty fevers and struggles and exaltation. His youth seemed never so vanished as now in the contrast between the utter loneliness of this visit and that riotous, joyful party of four years before. Things that had been the merest commonplaces of his life then, deep sleep, the sense of beauty around him, all desire, had flown away and the gaps they left were filled only with the great listlessness of his disillusion.

He pictured the rooms where these people lived--where the patterns of the blistered wall-papers were heavy reiterated sunflowers on green and yellow backgrounds, where there were tin bathtubs and gloomy hallways and verdureless, unnameable spaces in back of the buildings; where even love dressed as seduction--a sordid murder around the corner, illicit motherhood in the flat above.

Usually, on nights like this, for there had been many lately, he could escape from this consuming introspection by thinking of children and the infinite possibilities of children--he leaned and listened and he heard a startled baby awake int he house across the street and lend a tiny whimper to the still night; quick as a flash he turned away, wondering with a touch of panic whether something in the brooding despair of his mood had made a darkness in its tiny soul.

In other bookish news, I want to share a few links you may find interesting:

Interesting inscriptions
by interesting people. Totally love this.

Bill Clinton recommends some books.

Feministing talks about their ten fave feminist books.

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