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Dick Hill gives a passionate and powerful reading of Fitzgerald’s first novel. I came late to Fitzgerald, and I wasn’t expecting the range of emotions and genres packed into this small space. Besides the expected prose, there are generous helpings of poetry (and stirringly poetic prose) and even part of a playscript. The narrative is peppered with subheadings, like a textbook - or like the Aeolus episode in Joyce’s Ulysses, but two years before Ulysses was published.
Amory Blaine is a Princeton undergraduate trying to find himself. Gargantuan quantities of alcohol are consumed; late night bull sessions diagnose all the problems of society; the women Amory falls in love with (or at least falls in sex with) are impossibly beautiful and flirtatious. The Great War, after rumbling in the background for four years, finally impinges directly on his life (and takes away forever a number of his college buddies).
I’m not sure the ending of the novel really clicked for me. There’s not much of a plot; it’s more of an impressionistic survey of significant moments in a young man’s growing up. But there’s plenty of emotion and plenty of beauty, and Hill’s narration sings and soars.