[RGC 304.] Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

[read: my go-to all-time fave]

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I mentioned in my last post, RGC 39. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, that my go-to all-time fave book is this fine one right on here. I read it in my junior year of high school and have consistently used it as an answer to the ‘favorite book’ question because it’s the first book that gave me an ‘Aha!’ moment – that part where it all clicks, and you feel like you’re in on a secret. For Part I of Tender Is the Night, I was mostly just confused and angry at the ensuing affair, loss of innocence, and Dick just being a dick. Part II came around, though, and I realized just how many layers Fitzgerald built into this piece (that arguably is better, in my opinion, than The Great Gatsby) not to mention himself as Dick Diver.

I’ve already mentioned, also, that I’m a definite sadist sometimes in these readings. With Nicole’s glamorous lifestyle highlighted with her schizophrenia, Rosemary’s budding acting career in Hollywood, and Dick’s desire to be both Nicole’s doctor and God, as well as Rosemary’s lover, I just thought in the end that Dick deserved it. Both women took on their own personalities and embraced their independence and left Dick in the end, alone and wasting away as an alcoholic. I liked that. I liked the fact that they were released from Dick’s grasp, and his own misery consumed him because his personality traits really weren’t that great. I liked hating a character and seeing him unhappy, even though he’s the mirror image of Fitzgerald in the book.

The language of it made me fall in love with Fitzgerald’s simple writing, all but lost today among 4 novels and a collection of essays and short stories. I’m intrigued by the obsession with The Great Gatsby and the lack of attention given to Tender Is the Night because this book defined Fitzgerald for me – a man driving himself to hopelessness, hoping to write about someone else in France when in reality he writes about himself in the City. I get you, my friend. It clicked and it’s stuck with me since. I couldn’t reveal your secret, even if I wanted to, because every reader deserves that experience when the book makes sense and it feels as if you’re looking into the eyes of its author and talking to them. And the author wraps a warm arm around you as you keep reading, acknowledging their flaws and admiring their art. I think every reader experiences that with a book and it resonates so deeply that it comes to mind as your favorite book. So, thank you Fitzgerald for giving me that moment with this novel.

10 out of 10 would recommend.

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