Title: The Beautiful and Damned
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Page Count/Review Word Count: 368
With a title like this, you’d expect this book to be awesome, right? Wrong.
In fact, this is the only F. Scott Fitzgerald book to date that I’ve found a chore from start to finish. Perhaps there’s a reason why I think that he’s at his best when he’s writing short stories. Here, it felt like there were a couple of good ideas, but they were too drawn out for me.
It reminded me a little bit of the way that John Steinbeck writes about everyday life for people, only with Steinbeck, even though it’s deliberately slow, it’s still a joy to read. This had the opposite effect, just feeling torturous, especially because when Fitzgerald tried to play with form, it didn’t really work.
I know from the introductory essay that a few of the characters in it are based at least in part on people he knew, including on both Fitzgerald himself and his wife Zelda. The problem is that they’re both considered literary royalty, but if they’re anything like their counterparts in this novel then I’m kind of glad that I never met them. They’re certainly not the kind of people that I’d want to spend time with, if only because I feel like I’m more mature than them and completely uninterested in the kinds of lives that they lead.
Mostly, though, this was just one of those books where I read it just to be able to say that I’d read it, and the feeling that I was left with after completion was just a sense of relief. It’s a shame because I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Fitzgerald so far, and I thought his short story collections were masterful. This one, though, just felt like the ramblings of some old drunk who’d taken a creative writing class and wanted to put it to work.
Overall then, just don’t bother with this one, even if you’re a Fitzgerald fan. Stick with his short stories and The Great Gatsby and you’ll do just fine. This one was just a time sink.