The Findlay Commentary: A not so boring literary critique

Do you like words?

If you say no, really think about what all they do for the world.

Words can create an entire universe of their own, filled with unicorns or realism.

Now let us think about the people who create those images: writers. Let’s take a moment of silence to keep in mind those who write. Thank the J. K. Rowlings and John Greens of past and present generations that have brought us to tears and filled our hearts with laughter with the sheer magic of words.

Thanks writers, really appreciate your influence on culture; big thumbs up.

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Tombstone of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Photo Courtesy of Liza Lagman Sperl via Flickr).

F. Scott Fitzgerald, a famous author whose birthday was September 24, has written books that have influenced pop culture in big ways. Fitzgerald is the author of The Great Gatsby, which graced the screen in 2013 with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Mr. Gatsby himself. The popularity of The Great Gatsby has completely overshadowed all of the other masterpieces Fitzgerald has written. One book in particular, “The Beautiful and Damned”, is stunning tale of alcohol, romance, and sinking lives.

Spoiler alert, I’m going to do a brief plot summary which includes main events. Be prepared.

The novel is about a well-to-do man named Anthony Patch. As a young man, he forgets about the troubles of the real world with parties and booze. Anthony’s only living relative, his grandfather, is ridiculously wealthy. Anthony, like every good grandson, wishes for his Grandfather’s death so that he can inherit millions. Isn’t that so sweet? Like typical college students during the jazz era, he has no conception of the real world he is going to be mercilessly thrown into. During his journey as a young adult, he comes across true beauty in the form of a woman named Gloria. So on and so forth, they get hitched. Anthony doesn’t get a real job because he waits for his Grandfather’s death. This waiting game leaves them blowing through money they don’t have. The rest of their lives explain how booze can take over everything, leaving you and your spouse completely miserable and broke.

Why should you read this uplifting tale?

"The Beautiful and the Damned" (Photo Courtesy of Urban Romantics via Flickr).

“The Beautiful and the Damned” (Photo Courtesy of Urban Romantics via Flickr).

Because F. Scott Fitzgerald has a way of making brushing your teeth sound as if it is a high class circus on crack. The book is essentially about the demise of one man due to booze. Fitzgerald turns that sad story into a whirlwind full of stunning insight on life and love.

“This night, this glow, the cessation of anxiety and the sense that if living was not purposeful it was, at any rate, essentially romantic! Wine gave a sort of gallantry to their own failure,” writes Fitzgerald. In this instance he is describing what it’s like to be running away from your problems. Do you see why he’s fantastic? He makes alcoholism something to achieve.

“Life plays the same lovely and agonizing joke on all of us.”

Let’s be honest, that line alone is pretty enough to read the book. If that isn’t enough for you then Fitzgerald writes, “Both of them looked forward to a time when love, springing like the phoenix from its own ashes, should be born again in its mysterious and unfathomable haunts.”

If that isn’t enough, then you’re just wrong.

Read the book and be whisked away into a time where people loved being alive.

 


 

Lauren Findlay is a Marketing major with English and Theatre minors at the College of Charleston. She is a columnist at Cistern Yard Media and she enjoys long walks on the beach.

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