Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fitzgerald Agenda

I'm currently enjoying Tender is the Night as part of my quest to read the complete F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I had heard vague rumblings that this novel represented a substantial drop in quality in a short collection of novels which was of varying quality or tone to begin with (that latter part is true). The theme, characters, and structure of the novel are just revealing themselves twenty pages in, but some of the writing is the best Fitzgerald I've taken in, casting off 19th century characteristics that clung sporadically and tenaciously to his second novel The Beautiful and Damned. Try these paragraphs on for size. They take place on a lazy beach:

Noon dominated sea and sky - even the white line of Cannes, five miles off, had faded to a mirage of what was fresh and cool; a robin-breasted sailing boat pulled in behind it a strand from the outer, darker sea. It seemed that there was no life anywhere in all this expanse of coast except under the filtered sunlight of those umbrellas, where something went on amid the color and the murmur.

Campion walked near her, stood a few feet away and Rosemary closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep; then she half-opened them and watched two dim, blurred pillars that were legs. The man tried to edge his way into a sand-colored cloud, but the cloud floated off into the vast hot sky. Rosemary fell really asleep.

I have to say I had to hunt down a used paperback copy of the novel to read (shown above), due to the fact that the current cover is so blah, and thus vaguely inappropriate:

I hate to carry around and read books with lame covers. Scribners has been publishing Fitzgerald since his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. So, c'mon Scribners, do right by the man! (Since I'm in a complainin' mood, bring back Scribner's Magazine while you're at it.)

A full report when I'm done.
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1 comment:

booksnribbons said...

Well, tho my cover is not as glamorous as yours, -

and definitely not as 20s, from the moment you open the book and start leafing it, the glitter comes where is all this elegance gone?