This is the book I chose to read for the Jazz Age January. Big mistake. I probably should’ve gone for This Side of Paradise or something else, but Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel? Oh yeah, I was already 30 pages in and too hooked to the story when I went over the introduction and realised that it’s unfinished. And it isn’t a big mistake because I didn’t like it. It’s because I kind of did and it just stopped midway.
This story aims to take on the life of a Hollywood producer, Monroe Stahr. Not only do we get to know his story but we see him in his natural environment, at his workplace, and get a glimpse behind the scenes and all the glamour. This is nothing like the Great Gatsby as it focuses on an entirely different type of people. These are people who work and earn their reputation through being good at what they do. Stahr is so dedicated to his job and we get to be reminded of that all the time. But at its core, we get to see the characters go after similar things. Monroe is smitten by a woman that looks a lot like his dead wife –clinging onto the past. And Cecelia, who is a young girl, daughter of another man who’s in Monroe’s work circle, admires Stahr and wishes he’d see her differently; so do imagine the jealousy that wells up in her when he’s going after another woman.
Sadly, the first 6 chapters –well, the only six chapters there are– are mostly just setting up for what’s to come –what never came. We get to know the characters and what their lives are like, which is fun, but there certainly isn’t a whole lot that’s happening.
It’s beautifully written though, and really well-constructed. Not as well as the Great Gatsby, obviously, because he didn’t get the time to get it to the same level of elegance. But I believe that if he’d lived, if he’d had the time to finish it, it would’ve been as much fun as the Great Gatsby if not even a bit more action-packed.
This is why I’d suggest reading this book last. Don’t do what I did. Read all Fitzgerald’s other books first –maybe even read them all twice– and enjoy how beautifully put together they are, and how they have proper endings that tie everything together.Let this really be the last tycoon! Then read it and see the difference. It’s a good story, but no matter how much I like it, it’s incomplete, and I can’t fully give it a rating or talk to you about how awesome it is like I do with other books.
Let me know what you read for Jazz Age January! Hopefully, you had more luck with your pick than I did.
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