I finally – seriously – started reading the F. Scott Fitzgerald anthology that I bought at the start of summer. Today I finished the first 30 pages of “This Side of Paradise.”
I am enjoying the book so far. One of the things that I think Fitzgerald does really well is he can paint a portrait of the faults of another person in crisp, vivid images that make it seems like we thought that about the character before we even read it. For instance:
“When I had my last breakdown” – she spoke of it as a sturdy, gallant feat.
The above quote is Beatrice beginning to tell Amory about what happened in her two years away from him and what she learned about herself. The interesting thing, to me, at least, is the end of the sentence. How Amory perceived his mother. There is a subtle contempt within the words – even if he is just observing her. It’s also very Ironic. Here he is, trying to maintain a moral authority over a woman who installed the need to establish that authority over others.
One last bit from the first 30 words that I enjoyed was a sentence within the Monsignor Darcy section:
They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.
I think this is a wonderful way of describing a relationship between people. First off, it is unclear whether or not it is a positive or negative relationship based on the word choice. They “slipped briskly” which means they probably shouldn’t have ventured into the relationship they are going to develop. And then, “they never recovered” from this relationship. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? People typically recover from an ailment – not a positive situation. But with all of this, they develop an “intimacy” – a word that, for me, only has positive connotations. The complexities of the sentence are nothing short of enthralling.
While I may be starting my summer reading list late, I like this book thus far. Off to chapter two!