Monday, March 22, 2010

Tender is the delicious lamb!

Current book: Tender Is the Night
Pages read: 193 - 281

Well, first and most important things first, my lamb biryani was completely amazing. Seriously, you guys, it was the kind of thing you'd have in an Indian restaurant and go "There's no way this is replicable at home." Unless you're totally amazing, like me. (Fine, fine, and unless you have a really great Indian cookbook, which had a lot more to do with it than any actual skill on my part. But that is not the point.)

Ok, so, moving on. I was wrong about Nicole and Dick meeting Rosemary in Switzerland. Instead, they meet Dick's doctor friend, the one who was originally in charge of Rosemary's care, and he proposes that he and Dick start a clinic in Zurich together. Dick agrees, especially since Nicole's been so fragile, and they move to Zurich to get that set up. Things go along for a while in a sort of ok way, but eventually Nicole takes a turn for the worse. (I was also wrong about Nicole not being a schizophrenic. She definitely has paranoid and psychotic tendencies, and tends to suspect those around her of conspiring against her, though she realizes her errors in moments of lucidity. Also, she's always accusing Dick of infidelity, which is actually fair.) Anyway, Dick is worried about her, but doesn't seem to know whether he loves her or wants to be rid of her. Some of both, I suspect.

Dick's father, who lives in the States, dies, and he has to go over to America to take care of the funeral and his father's affairs. It's a bit traumatic for him, but not so much that he lets it get to him or anything. (Grief isn't appropriate in the upper classes, you know.) Upon his return to the Continent via steamship, he reacquaints himself with the McKiscos, now quite wealthy due to the success of Mr. McKisco's novels, and then stops off in Rome for a little vacation for himself. There he meets Rosemary, who's in the city filming another movie. By this point, it's been four years since they've seen each other, and it only takes them a day to start making out, and another couple of days to sleep together. Dick decides, however, that he's devoted enough to Nicole not to leave her for Rosemary, and Rosemary seems to accept this as her due, though she professes that Dick is really the only man for her. She seems close to marrying another guy, an idea to which Dick objects, but she offers him the (quite valid) argument that he's never going to marry her, so why not?

They part company, and, while Dick is on his way back to Zurich, he hears that Nicole's father (who molested her, in case you've forgotten) is very ill and may die. He goes to see the old man, who seems to be teetering on the edge of death, and sends a telegram to Zurich to inform his doctor friend of the news and ask his advice. Nicole accidentally finds out, and immediately goes to meet Dick and see her dying father. (It sort of seems like Fitzgerald wants us to think that this makes her crazy, but come on. Taking off, no matter how abruptly, to see your dying parent is a pretty normal thing to do.) Anyway, when she gets there, she finds out that her dad has packed up and left. Everyone, especially his doctor, is completely astonished, since he was supposed to be terminally ill and incapable of exertion, much less long-distance travel. Left in a state of shock, Dick and Nicole plan to return to Zurich.

All right, it's actually improving a little. Though I'm still frustrated with Dick and his infidelity, I feel like I'm getting a portrait of what it's like to try to function in a relationship with someone who's mentally ill, but with whom one is actually in love. The problem is, I feel like that's what's interesting to me about this book, but it's not what Fitzgerald wants to focus on. He's more interested in the old "illness of modern society" business, and the schizophrenia and its fallout are just symbols of the same old problem. Maybe I'm being too harsh, though. It's more interesting; I'll take what I can get.

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