Sunday, April 29, 2018

I'd Die for You and Other Lost Stories" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner)

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4435-6
Success is nice, but it's failure that draws us to the flame so we can get close to that landscape to taste it.  F. Scott Fitgerald is in many ways the Jim Morrison of early American literature.   Sexy, beautiful, and gets fascinating as his demons/alcoholism takes over the body and mind.  The two sides of Fitzerald is the young successful, brilliant prose writer, who was at the top of his profession and world.  Over a short period things crashed into the ground, and me, being me, is fascinated with the ruin that is Fitzgerald.  The truth is, once a writer, always a writer.  He didn't re-write "The Great Gatsby" or any of his early novels, but he did produce the magnificent "Pat Hobby Stories."  One of the first to convey a cynical, even noir attitude toward the Hollywood dream machine, Fitzgerald never lost his talent.  He lost perhaps his luck, and of course, his health.  Still, his prose talent never failed him.  It's interesting that there is now an excellent compilation of stories and film treatments that were unable to sell.  Fitzerald's primary income (and he was paid very well) was magazines and Hollywood.  Still, he had to struggle with getting works completed, as well as getting them published, and he often didn't succeed. 

"I'd Die for You and Other Lost Stories" is a fascinating set of short stories/film treatments that he couldn't get into print, and when offered the chance to change the narrative, he refused to do so. His attitude, and rightfully so, was either publish it as it is or sends it back to me (Fitzgerald).   What makes this book swing are images of Fitzgerald that I have never seen, and the short introduction to each story by its editor Anne Margaret Daniel, who did a superb work of editing and detective work.  Beyond that, there are only two stories that I like a lot:  "The Pearl and the Fur" and "The Couple."   Both are classic narrations on class difference and wealth.  Even though a flawed fellow, Fitzgerald was a fantastic observer of American culture and its citizens. Overall I would recommend this collection to the Fitzgerald fan, but also to writers who struggle with their work. I tend to read literature about writing, and Daniel's mini-introductions exposes Fitzgerald's world at a tough time and place for our prince of American Literature. 

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