Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzerald

The debut novel of the celebrated American writer F. Scott Fitzerald. After reading and re-reading The Great Gatsby and savouring the stylish prose of Scott, it was not difficult to decide to give this book a try.

Well, This Side of Paradise is true to its title. Leaves you just short of the paradise of a satisfying read! The witticisms are there. Flashes of engaging prose too. Yet, overall, the story isn't too free flowing. It feels like an assortment of different episodes and not quite seamless. Or, perhaps, it was for me a case of very high expectations from an author leading to a somewhat disappointing read. The Great Gatsby was an amazing book. Stylish, sophisticated just like the protagonist in the novel, Jay Gatsby.

The fact that Scott was only twenty-three when he wrote This Side of Paradise is something that says a lot about the talent of this great writer. It is also interesting that the book is autobiographical to a large extent.

Amory Blaine, the protagonist of this novel is someone who even at a very young age is convinced that a great destiny awaits him. He goes thro' boarding school and attends Princeton University. Princeton campus life forms a substantial part of the novel. The rest of the book deals with Amory's egotistical escapades, failed affairs and off beat and interesting views on life in general.

This paragraph towards the very end of this 268-page book, kind of captures the story of Amory Blaine rather well -

"There was no God in his heart, he knew; his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth - yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams..."

There are several interesting quotes from the novel that have been compiled at the following location-
http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2520849-this-side-of-paradise