Today I’m supposed to review Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald for the Classics Circuit.
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to read a whole lot of it. I knew it would be a risk, given my dislike of The Great Gatsby, but I like to give authors, especially well-respected authors, more than one chance.
Fortunately, it’s April Fool’s Day!
APRIL FOOL’S!! No review for you!
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on whether or not you want to read a review today), I still have a couple things to talk about.
So I guess that makes this a DOUBLE APRIL FOOL’S! (Maybe? I’m getting a little confused, to be honest.)
Alright, let’s get started. Fitzgerald spent almost ten years writing Tender is the Night, during which time his wife Zelda was in and out of mental hospitals. The book is about the troubles of a young psychoanalyst and his wife (who is also one of his patients), which is very clearly inspired by Fitzgerald’s own life. He wrote to a friend, “If you liked The Great Gatsby, for God’s sake read this. Gatsby was a tour de force but this is a confession of faith.” A lot of the discussion around this book is all about Fitzgerald and not about the actual book. On the back cover of my copy (which I got from the library) is a picture of Fitzgerald. The inside covers contain one half of a paragraph about the book’s plot and character, and then three and a half about Fitzgerald’s process writing the novel, his emotions and turmoils and crap. Also on the inside cover is a one-paragraph biography of Fitzgerald. Then there is an introduction, going into more detail about the history of the book and Fitzgerald’s process and turmoils and crap. I find it interesting that this book is considered, at least now, to be more important as a fictional semi-autobiography of Fitzgerald than to take it separately.
This is a brilliant transition (“Watch my hands! How beautifully they move!”), but here’s the biggest pro: his prose. Fitzgerald is a wonderful stylist. I sometimes wonder if people who lament the fiction of today are really just missing the particular stylistics of the past.
Biggest con: RWPWP. Rich White People With Problems. That is what this book is about. The characters and plot of this book (and Great Gatsby) may be stunningly complex or whatever, but I just can’t care. They are SO privileged and it turns me off so much, to the point where reading each page became an almost physical pain. Erg.
If you want to buy the book, here’s an Amazon link. I hope you enjoy it more than me!