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This Side of Paradise
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Group Reads > January Group Read: This Side of Paradise

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message 1: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
Hello everyone!

One of our first group reads for 2018 will be This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was a tragic figure (alcoholism and other health issues, dealing with his wife, Zelda's, mental illness, fighting in the war, etc.) but considered one of the great writers of the 20th century. Many know of The Great Gatsby, and this, along with the rest of Scott's writings, defined "The Jazz Age," the 1920s of flappers, free-flowing alcohol, and a (supposedly) carefree lifestyle. If you pay attention to the stories, though, a lot of those lives aren't so carefree, and I think that's part of what made Scott a genius writer: his characters are living it up, but also have dark sides.

This Side of Paradise was Scott Fitzgerald's first published novel. According to Wikipedia, "the book examines the lives and morality of post–World War I youth. Its protagonist, Amory Blaine, is an attractive Princeton University student who dabbles in literature. The novel explores the theme of love warped by greed and status seeking." So, basically, it sets the overall theme for the rest of FSF's work. As we read, we can think about how this compares to other books by Fitzgerald, especially Gatsby, since I'm guessing that's the piece of his work that most people are familiar with.

My tentative schedule for reading and discussion is:
January 1 - 10: Book 1, chapters 1 & 2
January 11 - 17: Book 1, chapters 3 & 4, and the Interlude
January 18 - 24: Book 2, chapters 1 - 3
January 25 - 31: Book 2, chapters 4 & 5

Please mark spoilers using the spoiler tag (you can find how to do that by clicking the "(some html is ok)" link right above your comment box) in consideration of others reading at different paces.

So, to start off, I'd like to know 1) who thinks they might join in this group read, and 2) what you've read or what you know about F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I will also say that if you've read Gatsby and didn't like it, don't let that influence whether you join us here. I think a lot of people read Gatsby in high school and had bad experiences, whether that's because it's not really appropriate for high schoolers, or because they have bad memories of icky English teachers, or just have bad experiences with books they're *forced* to read. I never had to read it in high school, and didn't read it until I was in my 20s, and I didn't like it. I actually read it after I read some of Fitzgerald's work, and that didn't make me like it any more. So even if you have bad memories of Jay Gatsby and Daisy, try this one anyway.


message 2: by Yolie (new) - added it

Yolie (yolie4u) | 73 comments I'll join for sure! This has been on my list for awhile. I own the book too so I just gotta get to reading it. I've read The Great Gatsby and loved it. I didn't read it until college so maybe that's why I wasn't turned off by it. I think I know a bit about F. Scott. His friendship with Ernest Hemingway and his fascinating marriage to Zelda. I've also read The Last Tycoon, so I am interested in reading more from F. Scott.


message 3: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
Yolie wrote: "I'll join for sure! This has been on my list for awhile. I own the book too so I just gotta get to reading it. ..."

Glad to have you join!


message 4: by Tiffany, Administrator (last edited Jan 08, 2018 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
By the end of chapter 2 ("Spires and Gargoyles"), what are your thoughts of Amory? Also, what do you think of all of the literary references (poets, poems, books, Oscar Wilde's collection, etc.) Fitzgerald is dropping in?


message 5: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
For me, I liked the *idea* of Amory at the beginning of the story. I felt like he was going to be quite the character -- a young boy who calls his mother by her first name, his precociousness -- just maybe not a likable character. His time in high school, I felt like he was posturing, trying to be a *certain type*. By the time we see him in college, though, I started to feel like he was a normal young adult: trying to figure out where he fits in, calculating his moves for a desired outcome. That sounds bad, but if you think about it, that's what we all do, to some extent, especially when we're young and trying to figure out where we fit in and how we want to fit in. So now, at the end of chapter 2, I actually like Amory, not just the idea of his character.


message 6: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
Hello!

Who's reading along, and how are you doing?

And to discuss the next chunk of the book --

What do you think of the book now? Amory? Do these two chapters change your ideas about him? Any other thoughts you have you'd like to discuss?


message 7: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
Hello, again! Wow, this month is breezing along! If you're following our schedule, you look like you're nearing the home stretch of The Side of Paradise; if you're not following our schedule, no problem!

For the first three chapters of Book 2, do you feel like these chapters are more cynical than the story had previously been? More realistic? Is this new tone because Amory's grown up, or because he's been wounded by romance, or because he's experienced war? Some other reason? Or maybe you think the tone hasn't changed at all. What are your thoughts?


message 8: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
Me, I feel like these chapters are more cynical than the book had previously been, but that it's also more realistic. I think earlier in the book, Amory was a kid who thought he knew it all, was finding his way in the world, and had this idea of How Everything Should Be (or at least How Everything Should Be For Amory). Now, as he's in his twenties, as well as having been in love and out of love, *and* having seen war (which Fitzgerald doesn't really talk about at all), the world isn't quite the way he planned. No more school, having trouble finding a job that satisfies him, having trouble finding a woman that satisfies him, then having trouble satisfying the woman he finds... I think the world didn't turn out The Way He Planned and that's made him more cynical. But that's real life.


message 9: by Tiffany, Administrator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tiffany | 1790 comments Mod
Can you believe it's almost February?!? One month down for the year.

As we wrap up the month, we wrap up our group read of This Side of Paradise.

So, how did you like it? How did you feel about how it ended? Any thoughts about how Amory's life turns out?

If you've read The Great Gatsby, how do you feel this compared to it?



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