3 1/2 stars
Fitzgerald's first novel suffers from the comparison to his later masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. Gatsby packs an efficient, powerful punch and my first reading of it knocked me off my feet. TSOP contains stretches of prolonged brilliance but also contains long stretches of aimlessness. Now, I realize this may be one of the points of the novel but it left me feeling rather distanced from the plot, such as it is, and especially Amory Blaine, the protagonist. I don't feel a protagonist need be likable but he/she/it should be interesting for the entirety of the narrative. At several points, I lost interest in Amory's preoccupation with himself, which, again, I understand is part of the point of the book. I promise I get it. I just found chunks of it uninteresting. That said, Fitzgerald's writing is often sensational and his inclusion of different narrative styles, intended to more fully encompass the minds of the characters, is often successful, if jarring at times. It is an impressive debut for Fitzgerald but I'm glad to know he got much, much better.