You’re stuck on an island and you must choose between a stack of Hemingway or a stack of Fitzgerald’s writings, which would you choose?

The truth: oh Lord, neither. Just imagine for a second having only one of those authors to read for an indeterminable amount of time. I appreciate them and love some of their works, but they are at times dull…angst-y…and how much can we really take of bull fighting?

With Hemingway I’ve read a good chunk of his short stories (as has every writer—I’d say “Hills Like White Elephants” is the first short story professors have you read.) I do love Hemingway’s technique in short stories. He was a master at causing you to reach beyond the words on the page; to sincerely peer between the lines. (And I can’t forget the ever-returning Nick.)

However, I fell asleep every time I picked up The Sun Also Rises. I super skimmed it because I had to read it for class. I couldn’t get into it at all and I don’t even want to retry. I’m stealing from Goodreads because I can’t pretend to give a summary of the novel:

“The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.”

Sounds a lot more interesting than I found it to be, but I do realize it just wasn’t my cup of tea and it could definitely be yours.

And then we have good ole Fitzy. My first reading of The Great Gatsby had me asking one thing, “Why does everyone think he’s so great?” It’s a good book, but I don’t think it’s his best. While taking an American literature class I decided to do my research paper over Fitzgerald’s works; therefore, having to read his finished novels and some of his short stories.

Anyway, I read Tender is The Night—and holy crap if you haven’t read it, please do—and the scale was tipped in his favor. It was such a beautiful novel and I do believe in Fitzgerald’s case you really can investigate his life through his writing. It can’t necessarily be proven, but anyone who has read his work knows it’s autobiographical in certain ways. Not the plot, but characteristics of people, circumstances, etc.

Stealing this summary from Goodreads as well because It’s been almost two years since I’ve read it and I’ll probably botch it:

“Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick’s harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character, Tender Is the Night is lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative.”

It wasn’t the plot that I loved so much, but Fitzgerald’s characterizations and how they interacted with one another / with the world. Who his characters were is how the story managed to have my heart in twisted knots.

And so, I may have a great appreciation for Hemingway’s short stories, but Fitz stole my heart with Tender is The Night.

Who has your preference, no matter how little that is?