This Side of Paradise is an anti-success story. In a normal success story, a young man pulls himself up from poverty with his brilliance, hard work, and good looks. He advances to the head of his class. He rescues others through heroics. He joins the army and is promoted time and again. In the end he wins the girl of his dreams.
This Side of Paradise does the opposite. Our good looking hero begins with a life of luxury and indolence. He indolences through life. He fails to advance to the head of his class. He is not there when friends die. He fails to win the beautiful, self-centered girl over and over again. He joins the army and is not promoted. His wealth decreases with each advance in life.
I find that kinda cool, but also explains to me why so many people were cool on this book when it came out. It does not provide cultural satisfaction. It runs counter to so many ideals, if not all ideals. Our hero must make the journey from being extraordinary to ordinary. The hero's journey is not his. He fails every challenge until he is a drunk being led about by other drunks.
I haven't hit the end. I don't remember how F. Scott wraps the thing up.
A few notes:
1. I think that I read this book back in college, but I have no practical memory left of it.
2. The same is true of Hemmingway, but at least I know well enough to avoid Hemmingway.
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald is buried in a cemetery just up the street from me.