Top critical review
A youthful novel, flawed and sometimes dull
on 7 September 2017
This is definitely a young man's novel, Fitzgerald's first and written when he was just 21 or so himself. It's easy to see why it burst onto the literary scene in the way that it did, challenging older values which still prevail. Fitzgerald's characters, privileged and indulged, sweep them away only to find nothing to take their place, and Amory's final vision is of a hollowness and emptiness.
We can see Fitzgerald wrestling, not always successfully, with how to write a novel and this often feels more like a series of vignettes than a totally coherent piece: there are bits of dialogue and play-like scenes, Amory's awful poetry, and set-pieces that appear, better, in later books.
Though flawed and sometimes unbearably dull, this is imbued with a vast energy and some writing that look forward to Fitzgerald's maturer work. While Amory has some of the same backgrounds and experiences, on a superficial level, as Fitz himself (Minnesota, Princeton), he lacks Fitzgerald's self-awareness and penetration that made him such an acute chronicler of the 'Lost Generation.'