"This Side of Paradise" - should I give up or keep reading?

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"This Side of Paradise" - should I give up or keep reading?

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Out 31, 2015, 5:49 pm

I almost never stop reading a book before finishing, but am seriously considering doing so after the painful experience of reading the first 80 pages of Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise".

The prose is so poor that half the sentences are nonsensical. There is no characterization whatsoever - the first chapter (40 pages) is all about the main character, Amory Blaine, but is so devoid of incident or detail that the reader has no sense of his personality, and no reason to care what will happen to him.

Pushed on a further 40 pages, but not much better.

Is this book going to improve, or should I give up now?

BTW, the experience is making me rethink "Gatsby" - maybe that book is also overrated...

Out 31, 2015, 6:13 pm

I can't advise you on that one, since it's still unread on my bookshelf. But I have generally enjoyed Fitzgerald, so I would probably try to slog through it.

I too hate giving up on books, and will usually force myself to finish one. The last exception to this was giving up on Lord of the Barnyard by Tristan Egolf. I really came to dislike the protagonist so much I just stopped being interested.

A rarity, but it happens!

Editado: Out 31, 2015, 6:32 pm

As it happens I got partway through This Side of Paradise and then abandoned it. It's been a while, so I don't remember exactly why -- I think I was underwhelmed by the protagonist, or just didn't care.

Not a comment on FSF in general though. I thought The Beautiful and Damned was well-written even though I disliked the main characters. And I liked Tender is the Night a lot. It's been 40 yrs since I read Gatsby, so no comment there.

Out 31, 2015, 6:54 pm

I'm sure I'm biased, as I rate The Great Gatsby as one of, if not the greatest American novel. So, I really liked This Side of Paradise. Maybe it will help if you keep in mind that much of it is taken from his own life, especially the part about being the poor boy in a school of wealthy classmates?

Out 31, 2015, 7:18 pm

It's my favorite Fitzgerald, but then I don't like Gatsby.

It's his earliest work, so you might want to read something that he wrote later and see if you want to go back to this one after being more acquainted with him.

Out 31, 2015, 8:45 pm

If, after 80 pages, you can't stand a book, it's time to quit. Life's too short, and there are too many books waiting to be read, to waste your time on something you don't like (assuming it's not for school or work).

Nov 1, 2015, 6:09 am

How interesting. I haven't tried that one but I scarcely got through 30 pages of Tender is the Night. The writing was godawful and I've no patience with lousy prose: if an author can't be troubled to write well I'm not going to waste my time reading him. I enjoy some of Fitzgerald's short stories and Gatsby is okay but I don't know why it & indeed Fitzgerald are so highly regarded.

Nov 1, 2015, 8:05 am

>5 mstrust: I'm sure I'm biased, as I rate The Great Gatsby as one of, if not the greatest American novel.

It's the only novel I've ever read, in a long, long life of reading, that I have ever wanted to call "perfect." So I also have the Fitzgerald gene. I've liked all the work I've read by him, but that one holds a special place in my literary constellation.

Nov 1, 2015, 12:42 pm

>9 southernbooklady: I have also called The Great Gatsby "perfect", as there is nothing I would change about it. With This Side of Paradise you can tell it's the work of a young writer, but one that would grow into genius. I also liked Tender is the Night almost as much as Gatsby.
But my own mother said she didn't understand what the big deal was about Fitzgerald.

Nov 2, 2015, 4:52 pm

Thanks everyone for various advice. I think I'll give up on "This Side" but maybe will give FSF another try with one of his late works.