Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Aren't you a friend of Van Buren Denby?"

I don't like fawning in literature, let's be clear. This is causing a huge rift between myself and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He likes to fawn, in a way that I've seen Hemingway do also. I'm 50 pages into Tender is the Night, and already I'm conceiving a very strong antipathy towards the way Fitzie sentimentalizes a character named, absurdly, 'Dick Diver'. Has there every been anyone in the history of Western civilization named Dick Diver? No. It's a stupid name, unrealistic to the point of distracting me from the story. Fitzgerald is good with the lyric stuff; maybe he should have been a poet. His fascination with every aspect of Dick Diver verges on obsession.

Dick Diver this, Dick Diver that, Dick Diver is the only American man in Paris with repose [apparently this means he doesn't touch his face at restaurants; who cares?], Dick Diver is great at parties, Dick Diver is a fascinating dinner companion but runs away if you try to monopolize his attentions, Rosemary fell in love with Dick Diver the moment she saw him, Dick Diver's children were educated in France, Dick Diver, Dick Diver, etc. etc. (Have I said Dick Diver too much? Let me say it again, Dick Diver. Now you know my pain). Really far more than I need to know about this character at this point in the novel, and an embarrassing amount of affection shown for him by the author. Hasn't he heard of understatement? And did he know that the name of this character would torture me? He seems more than happy to repeat the name again and again, as if he knew it would get under readers' skin. It's starting to feel like work to read this for my book club, which is unfortunate. I'm committed to finishing it, but I wouldn't mind reading something I'd enjoy.

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