Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If You Like Fitzgerald...

I've always been a fan of book sites that do the "If you like this, you might enjoy this" stuff. So what's a better time to introduce this kind of post than right now, during Fitzgerald Week! Without further ado, here are five books you might like if you like Fitzgerald (or if you're just looking for a good read).

If You Like Fitzgerald...You Might Enjoy:

1. The Season of Lillian Dawes, by Katherine Mosby: Right on the book's back cover, there's a blurb comparing Mosby to Fitzgerald, so I'm not the first person to find a link between the two. This book is one of my "comfort reads" that I return to again and again. The story of two brothers and the mysterious woman they both take an interest in, it's got a lot of Fitzgeraldian themes: destructive wealth, a character who's basically a more sympathetic, female version of Jay Gatsby, and a lush writing style. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a soft, easy read that makes everything feel like summer.

2. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson: In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I found Fitzgerald's Midwestern viewpoint to be one of his most important characteristics. Robinson is the same, and with a writing style that's equally poetic and graceful. This story, a journal written to the young son of a dying preacher, reminds me of Fitzgerald's story "Absolution" in its depiction of small-town Midwestern values and images.

3. Galveston, by Nic Pizzolatto: One of the things that makes The Great Gatsby so good is its strong sense of place. Both the book's setting and the places its characters come from are important to the story and writing. Pizzolatto's first novel is the same. The descriptions of the Gulf Coast, as well as the sense of the evocative places the characters once inhabited really add to the book's beauty and danger.

4. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway: In real life, Fitzgerald and Hemingway had a very contentious relationship (see Scott Donaldson's wonderful Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship). But this important novel offers a rare glimpse into the world that Fitzgerald knew well in Paris, a place of expatriates known as the Lost Generation. Not to mention that's it just an awesome book that everyone should read at some point in their lives (and which, admittedly, I really need to reread since it's been a few years).

5. Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell: Those of you who are familiar with this nonfiction book's subject (a travelogue of sorts centered around the first three U.S. presidential assassinations) are probably wondering why this made the list. But hear me out: Sarah Vowell has a wonderful love-hate relationship with America that I think closely mirrors Fitzgerald's own thoughts. She manages to celebrate and pick apart her country in equal measure, much like Fitzgerald did so carefully in his own work. Really, I think any of Vowell's books would be Fitzgerald-approved, but I think this is her most entertaining read. Even my younger brother, a non-reader, enjoyed this one.

Well everyone, that's the first installment of "If You Like...." If you have any suggestions for later installments, let me know. I plan to do another one next month.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, if you want to team up for the next "If you like...", I'll be further along in my readers' advisory course. We can use some fun read-alike databases.