Sunday, February 1, 2009

Better late

Current book: The Beautiful and Damned
Pages read: 17-66

Hey, look! I actually read something! I know this is a big change, but just breathe through it. You'll be ok. Well, it's been a while, but since all we got to in the last substantive post was meeting Anthony Patch and anticipating his descent into the debauchery of high society, there's not too much to catch up on. (That was kind of it, actually. Except for the bathtub book-holder. Don't laugh - you know you want one. I'm so not the only one who reads in the bath.) So, now we've also met some of Anthony's friends, most notably Dick, and gotten a little taste of their everyday existence. They seem to mostly go to restaurants, drink, and watch theatre. (If someone wants to grant me an inheritance so that I can go to restaurants, drink, and watch theatre, that can go ahead and happen any time. In case you're out there, inheritance-granter, reading this, and you were waiting.) Anyway, after some New York dissipation, what finally happens is that Anthony meets Dick's cousin, Gloria Gilbert, and is, of course, smitten with her nymph-like qualities. (I had to choose between nymph and sylph there. I'm not sure I'm happy with the choice. Maybe we can combine them. Nylph? Symph?) He hasn't fallen in love just yet, but we're obviously going there. She seems like a complete twit, too, which isn't unexpected. Maybe she'll toy with his poor little rich boy emotions. I'll be holding out for that.

The prose is...well, I'm not really sure what to call it, I have to admit. It's oddly cutesy, like Fitzgerald is trying really hard to work in little jokes, and at the same time, the description is overwrought in that 1920s sort of way. I can't decide if Fitzgerald is kind of a sloppy writer, or if he's trying to satirize the style of the day. I think I'm going to give him some credit and go with the satire, but I'm not entirely sure he's worthy of my indulgence. I guess we'll find out. If it were being written today, though, I'm pretty sure the critics would tear him a new one. But it's ok. I'm here for that.

Also, the book is broken into lots of different small sections within the chapters, and some of them are done as...well, vignettes, I guess you'd call them. One was written as a play, with only the dialogue provided, and with stage directions, and one as a mythological sequence in which the powers that be send Beauty down to dwell on Earth in the form of a young girl. (Gloria, of course. The twit.) I didn't mind the play section, and it was, you'll have to pardon the expression, pretty meta to be mocking the theatre of the time within a group of men about to go the theatre, so I can respect that. The mythological interlude, however, seemed not only out of place, but pretty forced. Again, I guess this could be satire, but since I wasn't alive in 1920, it's hard for me to tell what he's satirizing. That's the trouble with literary sniping: it doesn't stand the test of time. Ends up making the famous author look silly for dignifying the Philistines with the attention.

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