Thursday, March 8, 2012

Classics and Cocktails...The Beautiful and The Damned

Even though this review is about 8 days late, I figured I would at least write it.  I actually had read "The Beautiful and The Damned" a long time ago in my late college days.  I was on a kick of reading back then and had already read some other F. Scott Fitzgerald books, so I figured I would read this one.  As I started to read it, I realized how much I didn't recall the material like I thought I would.  That should have been my first sign.  So here is my wonderful review. (PS - All sarcasm will be typed in italics, just so you can read what I think better).

As I began this book, I realized that the title should have been changed from "The Beautiful and The Damned" to "Whoa Is Me: or How Bad It Is To Be Rich and Spoiled in America."  As we are introduced to the novel, we learn that the star of the book is Anthony Patch, the grandson of one of the richest people in America at that time.  We learn that he is a graduate of Haaa-vaaardBig effin deal.  He spends his life as young adult partying and boozing and carousing and having a grand time in all the right places in NYC.  His friends seem like they're there because no one else wants to hang out with him.  He never is presented as a douche-bag, but you can surely get the impression that if you met him in real life he would be.  As the story continues, we are introduced to "Beauty."  It somewhat annoyed me how Fitzgerald made her out to be "created from the heavens" and sent to man to torment him.  I saw the story of Gloria has one of a woman who knew what she wanted and wasn't above using it to her advantage to get it.  In other words, she was whoring herself out to get what she wanted without presenting herself as a whore.  She has class.  Whatever.  As the story continues, eventually these two meet and after a back and forth become married.

I know I'm glossing over the courtship, but it simply goes like this - She paid him no attention and he none to her.  Then she wanted attention and he wouldn't provide it.  What a dick.  Then he wanted her attention and she wouldn't provide it.  What a bitch.  Then after a while, they realized they were to be together.  Aww.  How romantic.  You pursue and chase and then spend the rest of the life together resentful of each other.  That in a nutshell is the epitome of their marriage.  The book could have ended after that sentence right there, but nooooo, Fitzgerald is tooo good of a writer to let that happen.

As the story progress, they do resent each other.  One for their beauty, the other for their laziness.  You know its rough being rich.  You have to sit around and do nothing all day while you wait for someone really, really old to die so you can get your money.  As they are squandering their cheese on a house they hate, booze during prohibition, and friends that don't seem to want that life anymore, these two don't learn the lesson of life.  They learn the lesson of the rich.  Which is, "We don't talk to 'those' people anymore."  They don't realize that there is more to life than blowing all your money.  I thought it was funny all the different ways in which Anthony tried to get a living, but then ultimately decided to fuck it.  He did the rich people way, sue the shit out of the person in which the will was written in favor of in order to get his money.  Way to be a class act there buddy.  Don't worry about a job or dignity or class, be a rich asshole instead.

You see, throughout the book we learn that two things are evident.  Anyone who is "Beauty" will never learn to love anyone more than themselves.  Gloria is a self-centered "woman" who is resentful of others who need nothing of her.  She is also resentful of those that want everything of ever.  That is why she loves/hates Anthony.  It's a crazy bi-polar relationship.  Anthony is the portrayer of the "Damned."  He is damned because his life is soooo good that there is nothing for him to do.  Rough life there buddy.  Let's not forget the time in the "military," in which Anthony gets some poor Southern girl, who is "loose," to fall in love with him, because he is such a charmer.  Whatever.  I felt those pages were wasted with a story line that showed little except for the class of the wealthy to feel they could get away with whatever they wanted.

All in all, there were two major things that annoyed the shit out of me in this book.  First off, where does F. Scott get off using the biggest, most per prosperous, high brow words on the planet.  If you want to alienate your readers into believing you are a pompous ass, congratulation you win.  Thank you for making me feel both poor and stupid.  Seriously, did this guy write the book with a thesaurus on hand the whole time.  I sure has hell know he wrote it with a glass in the other hand.  Secondly, why did the end feel so rushed.  Dude, life does not end at effin 30!!!!  He makes his actors pudgy and crow-eyed and depressed and sad about life because they are 28 and 32.  Oh No, Whoa is me.  I'm so effin old now.  My life is over.  Whatever.  I'm 34 and I'm in the best shape of my life.  No grey hairs, no pudgy belly.  Why can't life be over when your 40 instead?  The last section of the book was a joke.  Why was he in a wheelchair?   Seriously, why the fuck was he in a wheelchair?  Who hit him?  When did he fall?

In comparison to the book from January "Anna Karenina," I would recommend this one over the first.  At the same time, if you would love to hear about rich people and their problems during a time in which society was at its lowest, both are wonderful fits for you.  They both present the same ideal.  Rich people have it waaaay rougher than you.  You might be struggling for food and water and a job, but they're out there trying to figure out how to spend Daddy's money and deal with all those engagements and their mistresses and find something to do with their lives, oh you don't know how rough it is out there.

In other words, from the great thespian Sean Connery:

Now where's that book about the woman who's soooo depressed.

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