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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What I'm Reading: Vol. 4

I finished The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. As much as the narrator irritated me at times, I sympathized with his frustration between societal/family expectations and his own desires for spontaneity and excitement. I felt even worse at the end (SPOILER) when he still prefers the fantasy when he could experience it all first hand. He'd rather sit on a bench imagining the woman of his dreams than go up the elevator to see her first hand. I suppose that's the significance though. If he'd gone up, maybe he'd discover that he'd wasted his life pining after someone and something that could never really meet his expectations. I want to watch the Scorsese film version now so I can see how he handles the ending.

After that, I read This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and enjoyed most of it. There was a part midway through where the narrator, Amory Blaine, meets the love of his life and the prose of the book switches to a script format. I loved how that switch plays up the drama of their romance. Then there was a passage at the end when he's in a cemetery and it reminded me of times I've been there...

He wondered that graves ever made people consider life in vain. Somehow he could find nothing hopeless in having lived. All the broken columns and clasped hands and doves and angels meant romances. He fancied that in a hundred years he would like having young people speculate as to whether his eyes were brown or blue and he hoped quite passionately that his grave would have about it an air of many, many years ago. It seemed strange that out of a row of Union soldiers two or three made him think of dead loves and dead lovers, when they were exactly like the rest, even to the yellowish moss.

The novel mostly made me want to read more about the Fitzgeralds' lives. This is still one of my favorite quotes by him and the best reason for reading I've ever heard.

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