Have you ever been really enthusiastic about reading a particular book or author only to be disappointed when you finally did? Disappointment isn't really the right word for what I'm feeling about F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise. It's good, but I'm having a hard time connecting with the story. It has a cobbled together feel to it, possibly because it was in part cobbled together. It's got bits and pieces of a variety of different things--poems, dialogue from plays, snatches of letters. It makes for a choppy rather than flowing read. This is the novel he wrote when he broke up with Zelda Sayre and returned home to Minnesota. This is the same novel that when published was a bestseller that brought him fame and reunited him with Zelda in holy matrimony. Part of me feels like it's a bit of a slog though I want to finish it. And part of me feels like I could just quietly set is aside and pick up something else I've been dying to read.
But the point of this post was to share a few sentences with you.
"None of the Victorian mothers--and most of the mothers were Victorian--had any idea how casually their daughters were accustomed to be kissed. 'Servant-girls are that way,' says Mrs. Huston-Carmelite to her popular daughter. 'They are kissed first and proposed to afterward'."
"But the Popular Daughter becomes engaged every six months between sixteen and twenty-two, when she arranges a match with young Hambell, of Cambell & Hambell, who fatuously considers himself her first love, and between engagements the P.D. (she is selected by the cut-in system at dances, which favors the survival of the fittest) has other sentimental last kisses in the moonlight, or the firelight, or the outer darkness."
I'm sure this was very modern for the times. While the reading of the novel is slow going, I'm really into Joshua Zeitz's Flapper which talks about F. Scott and Zelda and this novel in great detail. Is it awful to say it's almost more fun to read about the book than to read the book itself? Of course it could be a timing thing and my mood has just changed from when I first started reading it. I plan on sticking with it for just a bit longer--it may pick up yet. If nothing else it's fairly short. Perhaps I should have gone with a reread of The Great Gatsby or tried one of his other novels? As it's supposed to be autobiographical, maybe things will get more interesting when Amory meets his "Zelda"! Certainly in real life F. Scott and Zelda were an interesting pair.