Saturday, August 12, 2006

Party Like It's 1929

Can't get to the Riviera for a while? Enjoy reading about riotous drunks--natural and supernatural, tragically and comically violent? Here's the perfect pair of books to read in this exact order:
  1. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Topper Takes a Trip by Thorne Smith
Fitzgerald explores Great Themes, though not as neatly as in The Great Gatsby. The book is a bit depressing too, but paints a vivid picture of American expats and Europe in the 1920s. The Yanks were like puppies, blithely frisking through the war-blasted landscape while the battered survivors stoically cleaned up after them--and sometimes battered them back.

Thorne Smith inhabits much of the same Riviera terrain (I wonder if they hung out together; and if so, who drank more?), but his book is sparkling with irrepressible joie de vivre and flowing spirits, vinous and spectral. He has a marvelous knack for rendering French verbatim into hilarious English, and you can practically taste the sunlit Meditterranean air.

No comments: