“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald


So you see that old libel that we were cynics and skeptics was nonsense from the beginning. On the contrary we were the great believers.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “My Generation”

It’s his birthday today.

First off, here’s a piece I wrote for Bright Wall Dark Room about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which focuses a lot on Fitzgerald’s original work, its intentions and mood: Riotous Excursions: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. That had been percolating for a long long time. I had been so frustrated by the critical response to that movie. The people calling the movie “over the top” can’t have understood the book. Anyway, I was happy to finally lay down my case about it.

Fitzgerald was a writer I liked right away, even though I was forced to read his stuff at 14 or 15. I credit my love to my 10th grade teacher, Mr. Crothers. His love of The Great Gatsby permeated his lectures, his enthusiasm was infectious.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (or Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald) was born in St. Paul Minnesota in 1896. He went to Princeton, and afterwards joined the army. Somewhere in those early years, he sold his first story and was only 23 years old he wrote and published his first novel: This Side of Paradise. It was a smash hit, a zeitgeist book, and Fitzgerald was hailed as the co-creator/author of the Jazz Age, the man who described it, explained it as it was happening. Fitzgerald was seen early as THE voice of his era and his generation.


He may have seemed glamorous, urbane, desirable, but this was the man who wrote: “What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.” He knew all about that.

More, much more, after the jump:


The Jazz Age went sour for Fitzgerald early, long before the stock market crash. You can already feel the death knell in The Great Gatsby, published in 1925.

As everyone knows, F. Scott Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre, a wild Southern belle from Montgomery, Alabama.


Girls, for instance, have found the accent shifted from chemical purity to breadth of viewpoint, intellectual charm and piquant cleverness … we find the young woman of 1920 flirting, kissing, viewing life lightly, saying damn without a blush, playing along the danger line in an immature way – a sort of mental baby vamp … Personally, I prefer this sort of girl. Indeed, I married the heroine of my stories. I would not be interested in any other sort of woman.

Interview with F. Scott Fitzgerald, in January, 1921

Zelda was the Clara Bow for the literary set. She was the original “jazz baby”.

Scott and Zelda lived their relationship in public. They danced in fountains, misbehaved, partied, kept scrapbooks of clippings from the gossip pages.


Dorothy Parker had a vivid (and oft-quoted) memory of seeing the two of them shortly after their marriage:

Robert Sherwood brought Scott and Zelda to me right after their marriage. I had met Scott before. He told me he was going to marry the most beautiful girl in Alabama and Georgia! … But they did both look as though they had just stepped out of the sun; their youth was striking.


In 1931, post-stock-market-crash, Fitzgerald wrote an essay called “Echoes of the Jazz Age” (it’s included in the wonderful collection The Crack-Up. I wrote about that essay here. The essay is an elegiac ode to a lost world, still glimmering beneath the water. Nobody did elegiac better than Fitzgerald, and it is a striking quality in someone so young. But he also had a perspective on the world outside his own experience (also a striking quality). For example, this unforgettable passage from “Echoes of the Jazz Age”:

In the spring of ’27, something bright and alien flashed across the sky. A young Minnesotan who seemed to have had nothing to do with his generation did a heroic thing, and for a moment people set down their glasses in country clubs and speakeasies and thought of their old best dreams. Maybe there was a way out by flying, maybe our restless blood could find frontiers in the illimitable air. But by that time we were all pretty well committed; and the Jazz Age continued; we would all have one more.

Incredible: the taciturn virginal mechanic (hailing from Fitzgerald’s home state) did the most amazing thing of all and Fitzgerald, hailed as the voice of his hard-partying generation, looked up in the sky and marveled. What had he ever done that could compete with that?

Zelda and her husband were in sync in those early days, and they wrote articles together about their peripatetic life (the articles contained double bylines). “Show Mr. and Mrs. F –“ is a wonderful example (excerpt at the link). You should read The Crack-Up. Especially if you have “cracked up” yourself. (I wrote a pretty lengthy essay about the title essay of that collection.)

Zelda wrote a review of Scott’s book The Beautiful and the Damned in which she blithely references their relationship:

It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and also scraps of letters, which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald – I believe that is how he spells his name – seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.

One thing on Zelda: a common complaint is that she somehow was the inspiration for his “genius”, and yet she too was a writer, only somehow because of … the patriarchy, perhaps … she didn’t get a fair shake. There is some truth to her being an inspiration to him, as well as her discomfort with being a “muse”, and her anger at him “stealing” from her (which – in the above excerpt – comes out as teasing), but the thing is: F. Scott Fitzgerald had the discipline to sit down every day, and churn out pages, correct them, address editors’ notes, and start again. He faced the void of the blank page every day, and under enormous pressure too. This is not “genius,” this is stick-to-it-ive-ness, and you MUST have it if you want to be more than a one-hit wonder. Zelda had many problems, and many were not her fault. But she did not have the discipline he did. This is not because she was trapped by “women’s work” like being a good wife, and sewing, mending, babies, housework. Zelda? Please. The two lived in hotels 90% of the time! She could be a wonderful writer, but she was sporadic in her work ethic, she would drop things when the inspiration passed, much of her stuff was formless and needed a lot of shaping, and she also was quite ill for a lot of the time. Not everything is a conspiracy to silence women. There were plenty of women writers publishing at that time, it was a publishing Golden Age. Joan Acocella wrote a fascinating article about writer’s block for The New Yorker, covering a number of serious cases, observing: “When the critics made fun of Zelda’s novel, she stopped publishing; when Scott had setbacks – indeed, when he was a falling-down drunk – he went on hoping, and working.” Zelda’s real tragedy is that maybe with today’s medications she might have been able to lead a productive life. I am haunted by Zelda Fitzgerald.


In 1922, Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to editor Maxwell Perkins at Scribners: “I want to write something new — something extraordinary and simple & intricately patterned.”

The Great Gatsby was published in 1925. Fitzgerald worked hard on the book and was tormented throughout the process. He wrote, and re-wrote, holding off Perkins’ demands for drafts/manuscripts as long as possible.

First edition, “The Great Gatsby”

The Great Gatsby was not the phenom of This Side of Paradise. Reviews were mixed to extremely negative. Nobody wanted bleak commentary, especially from him. They wanted the eternal party, they wanted the flattery of how he reflected them back to themselves. In 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a heartbreaking letter to Perkins:

Would the 25-cent press keep Gatsby in the public eye – or is the book unpopular? Has it had its chance? Would a popular reissue in that series with a preface not by me but by one of its admirers – I can maybe pick one – make it a favorite with classrooms, profs, lovers of English prose – anybody? But to die, so completely and unjustly after having given so much!

Only posterity would place Gatsby in the pantheon where it belongs.

We all know what ended up happening to Zelda. While they lived in Paris, she got it into her head that she needed to be a ballerina. Soon, she was dancing for 6, 7, 8 hours a day. Friends who visited the couple in Paris told stories (in letters, and later, to biographers) of arriving at the Fitzgeralds’ hotel room, being greeted at the door by Zelda in a tutu and ballet shoes. She would dance for them. Badly. These stories are very painful.

Zelda had her first breakdown in 1930. Her husband was devastated by her illness. By that point, his drinking problem was entrenched. She was institutionalized in Asheville, North Carolina. He visited constantly, staying in a nearby hotel. He was crushed as well by what was obviously a slacking off in public receptivity to his work. It’s tough when you become a mega-star at 23. One of his most memorable and perceptive essays is called “Early Success” (also in The Crack-Up. I wrote about it here.) In that essay, Fitzgerald wrote:

The dream had been early realized and the realization carried with it a certain bonus and a certain burden. Premature success gives one an almost mystical conception of destiny as opposed to will power – at its worse the Napoleonic delusion. The man who arrives young believes that he exercises his will because his star is shining. The man who only asserts himself at thirty has a balanced idea of what will power and fate have each contributed, the one who gets there at forty is liable to put the emphasis on will alone. This comes out when the storms strike your craft.

It is very rare to have such perception about your own experience. Perception like that is hard-won.

Fitzgerald supported himself in those lean grim years by cranking out short stories for the big mags at the time, stuff that paid the bills but left him feeling empty.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at 44, leaving an unfinished novel The Last Tycoon behind him. Zelda would die, horribly, in 1948, when a fire broke out in her institution. The patients, trapped in a locked ward, were burned alive. She had always been terrified of fire. It is terrible, terrible to contemplate.

When I read Gatsby at age 15, I “related” to Nick, the narrator, the relatively innocent bystander, who looks on at the decadence of Daisy and Jordan and Gatsby, trying to practice “tolerance” (as he says in the first pages of the book). But now, reading it as an adult, with a lot of wreckage in the rear view mirror, I enter the story through Gatsby. I understand Gatsby now. I am haunted by my own green light. I put up blackout curtains so I won’t have to see it.

Like all great books read (perhaps) too early, Gatsby seems like a completely different book when you read it as a more seasoned adult. It is only NOW that I can perceive its stature, it is only now I understand why the book is such an epic human tragedy. A particularly American tragedy.

It is a terrible kind of understanding. You have to have gone through your own Valley of Ashes to get there.

I’ll close with another excerpt from “Early Success”.

The uncertainties of 1919 were over – there seemed little doubt about what was going to happen – America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it. The whole golden boom was in the air – its splendid generosities, its outrageous corruptions and the tortuous death struggle of the old America in prohibition. All the stories that came into my head had a touch of disaster in them – the lovely young creatures in my novels went to ruin, the diamond mountains of my short stories blew up, my millionaires were as beautiful and damned as Thomas Hardy’s peasants. In life these things hadn’t happened yet, but I was pretty sure living wasn’t the reckless, careless business these people thought – this generation just younger than me …

The dream had been early realized and the realization carried with it a certain bonus and a certain burden. Premature success gives one an almost mystical conception of destiny as opposed to will power – at its worst the Napoleonic delusion. The man who arrives young believes that he exercises his will because his star is shining. The man who only asserts himself at thirty has a balanced idea of what will power and fat have each contributed, the one who gets there at forty is liable to put the emphasis on will alone. This comes out when the storms strike your craft.

The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense one stays young. When the primary objects of love and money could be taken for granted and a shaky eminence had lost its fascination, I had fairy years to waste, years that I can’t honestly regret, in seeking the eternal Carnival by the Sea. Once in the middle twenties I was driving along the High Corniche Road through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling on the sea below. As far ahead as I could see was Monte Carlo, and though it was out of season and there were no Grand Dukes left to gamble and E. Phillips Oppenheim was a fat industrious man in my hotel, who lived in a bathrobe – the very name was so incorrigibly enchanting that I could only stop the car and like the Chinese whisper: “Ah me! Ah me!” It was not Monte Carlo I was looking at. It was back into the mind of the young man with cardboard soles who had walked the streets of New York. I was him again – for an instant I had the good fortune to share his dreams, I who had no more dreams of my own. And there are still times when I creep up on him, surprise him on an autumn morning in New York or a spring night in Carolina when it is so quiet that you can hear a dog barking in the next county. But never again during that all too short period when he and I were one person, when the fulfilled future and the wistful past were mingled in a single gorgeous moment – when life was literally a dream.


Quotes on Fitzgerald

Dorothy Parker:

“Like the director who put his finger in Scott Fitzgerald’s face and complained, Pay you. Why, you ought to pay us. It was terrible about Scott; if you’d seen him you’d have been sick. When he died no one went to the funeral, not a single soul came, or even sent a flower. I said, ‘Poor son of a bitch,’ a quote right out of The Great Gatsby, and everyone thought it was another wisecrack. But it was said in dead seriousness. Sickening about Scott.”

Saul Bellow:

“I like Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald. I think of Hemingway as a man who developed a significant manner as an artist, a lifestyle that is important. For his generation, his language created a lifestyle, one that pathetic old gentlemen are still found clinging to. I don’t think of Hemingway as a great novelist. I like Fitzgerald’s novels better, but I often feel about Fitzgerald that he couldn’t distinguish between innocence and social climbing. I am thinking of The Great Gatsby.”

John Gardner:

The ones that last are the ones that are true…Of course, some writers last a long time because of their brilliance, their style. Fitzgerald is a good example – a fine stylist. But he never quite got to the heart of things. THAT’S what should concern the critics.

John Cheever:

Documentary novels, such as those of Dreiser, Zola, Dos Passos – even though I don’t like them – can, I think be classified as realistic. Jim Farrell was another documentary novelist; in a way, Scott Fitzgerald was, though to think of him that way diminishes what he could do best … which was to try to give a sense of what a very particular world is like. I’ve written something on Fitzgerald, and I’ve read all the biographies and critical works, and wept freely at the end of each one – cried like a baby – it is such a sad story. All the estimates of him bring in his descriptions of the ’29 crash, the excessive prosperity, the clothes, the music, and by doing so, his work is described as being heavily outdated … sort of period pieces. This all greatly diminishes Fitzgerald at his best. One always knows reading Fitzgerald what time it is, precisely where you are, the kind of country. No writer has ever been so true in placing the scene. But I feel that this isn’t pseudohistory, but his sense of being alive. All great men are scrupulously true to their times.

Billy Wilder:

“I remember Fitzgerald when he was working at Paramount and I was there working with Brackett. Brackett, who was from the East, had written novels and plays, and had been at Paramount for years. Brackett and I used to take breaks and go to a little coffee joint across the street from the studio. Oblath’s! we used to say. The only place in the world you can get a greasy Tom Collins. Whenever we saw Scott Fitzgerald there, we’d talk with him, but he never once asked us anything about writing screenplays… What a veteran screenwriter produces might not be good, but it would be technically correct; if he has a problem in the third act he certainly knows to look for the seed of the problem in the first act. Scott just didn’t seem particularly interested in any of these matters.”

Robert Stone:

“My ‘forebears’ are unsurprising. The great masters, the late Victorians; more Hemingway and Fitzgerald than Faulkner. I like Céline and Nathanael West and Dos Passos.”

Dorothy Parker:

“Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, ‘You’re all a lost generation.’ That got around to certain people and we all said, Whee! We’re lost. Perhaps it suddenly brought to us the sense of change. Or irresponsibility. But don’t forget that, although the people in the twenties seemed like flops, they weren’t. Fitzgerald, the rest of them, reckless as they were, drinkers as they were, they worked damn hard and all the time.”

James Thurber:

“You know Fitzgerald once wrote Thomas Wolfe: ‘You’re a putter-inner and I’m a taker-outer.’ I stick with Fitzgerald. I don’t believe, as Wolfe did, that you have to turn out a massive work before being judged as a writer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald to Thomas Wolfe, who was struggling over revisions of Of Time and the River:

You never cut anything out of a book you regret later.

Robert Stone:

“What I’m always trying to do is define that process in American life that puts people in a state of anomie, of frustration. The national promise is so great that a tremendous bitterness is evoked by its elusiveness. That was Fitzgerald’s subject, and it’s mine. So many people go bonkers in this country – I mean, they’re doing all the right things and they’re still not getting off.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald:

An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterwards.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

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20 Responses to “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Wren Collins says:

    Wonderful post! And great timing for me- I just started studying Gatsby for my Eng. Lit A-Level. I liked the book when I read it a couple years ago, but it’s only on rereading that I’m beginning to comprehend it. Such a slim little volume but it seems huge.
    What did you think of the Luhrmann film? I really liked it, but for some reason it seemed to get a lot of bad press.

    • sheila says:

      I loved the Luhrmann film too!! – I don’t know what everyone was complaining about! Especially Leo’s performance which I thought was brilliant – and captured the broken vulnerability and sheer delusion of Gatsby in re: Daisy. He was SO good. I’m not a Carey Mulligan fan – she has no presence, in my opinion – but the rest of the film was fantastically conceived.

      I’d seen the version from the 70s, and it was all gauzy and respectful and really didn’t capture the spirit of the book at all.

      • Wren Collins says:

        Oh, god, the scene in the film where Nick and Gatsby are waiting for Daisy and Gatsby vanishes, then turns up soaked- and his BEHAVIOUR thoughout- so funny. And heartbreaking. Like- jeez. And DiCaprio nailed it.
        I didn’t mind Carey Mulligan- liked her delivery of the ‘beautiful fool’ line. Liked Toby Maguire.

        • sheila says:

          Thought Toby was wonderful and I LOVED Tom. PERFECT.

          I loved the scene where Gatsby filled the room with flowers for her. He was like a hopeful desperate adolescent. And yes: Leo NAILED it. That was really really vulnerable work.

          • Wren Collins says:

            Yes! Tom! There’s a description of him in the book- something about great packs of muscle shifting and his body bursting out of his ‘glistening boots’ or something- anyway, it was a wonderful little bit of writing- and the guy who played Tom had it DOWN. Never mind the lines and the costume, you could tell who he was just by the way he moved.

          • sheila says:

            I totally agree. And he KNEW something was going on. There’s a great sense of the huge class divide, too – Gatsby in all his gleam and Tom in his grime. I forget how Gatsby made his money – is it left somewhat mysterious in the book? Did he inherit it? I don’t think he ever worked a day in his life, although I may be mistaken.

  2. Anne says:

    Hmm. Now I’m wondering what it means that I identified with Gatsby at 17.

  3. Anne says:

    Ah, I don’t think it was really that interesting. I doubt my reading of it or of him was very deep at the time. It was mostly the unrequited love part. Staring out at the green light on the opposite dock. And maybe having some sense that the object of all this tremendous feeling wasn’t – by any outside measure – actually worth it?

  4. I’m glad you mentioned This Side of Paradise. I recently re-read it and Gatsby, back to back. While Gatsby is arguably “deeper”, Paradise seems more “modern” in its structure, particularly in it the way it “jump-cuts” from scene to scene. And, of course, the way Fitzgerald effortlessly segues into the realm of poetry:

    “The last light fades and drifts across the land–the low, long land, the stony land of spires; the ghost of evening tune again their lyres and wander singing in a plaintive band down along the long corridors of trees; pale fires echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that dreams, and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus flower something of this to keep, this essence of an hour.
    No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale of star and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to time and earthy afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire and shifting things the prophecy you hurled down the dead years; this midnight my desire will see, shadowed among the embers, furled in flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.”

    • sheila says:

      Professor – I love that book too. It is so hard to believe a man so young wrote it – although – by the same token – it is such a wonderful book about college life, written from a guy who was in the thick of it.

      That passage you quote … is so unbelievably beautiful and melancholy that it makes my heart ache. “sequestered vale of star and spire …” My God.

      I want to read it again – it’s been years.

  5. Desirae says:

    I listened to the You Must Remember This (podcast if you aren’t familiar) six-part series on Joan Crawford, and there was a quote included by F. Scott Fitzgerald that seemed so emblematic of him to me:

    “Joan Crawford is doubtless the best example of the flapper, the girl you see in smart night clubs, gowned to the apex of sophistication, toying iced glasses with a remote, faintly bitter expression, dancing deliciously, laughing a great deal, with wide, hurt eyes. Young things with a talent for living.”

    It’s a great description, first of, and there are few things I love as much as Joan Crawford in her Jazz Baby roles. But more to the point he was all about the contradictions; dancing deliciously and faintly bitter expressions, laughing but with wide, hurt eyes. Even in the midst of that brilliant youth of his he had a sense of the danger underneath, or an oncoming crash. I wonder why.

    • sheila says:

      // wide, hurt eyes //


      Yes, I love that podcast – she does such an amazing job.

      Like you, I am so struck by his awareness of the coming disaster. Where did that come from? His sensitivity had something to do with it – artists sometimes sense a cataclysm before anyone does. You’re the one who recommended to me “A Nervous Splendor”, right? There was a similar jittery feeling in that – a whole culture devoted to silliness/denial/beauty/militarism … and even if people didn’t know WHAT was coming, those who were paying attention – the outsiders, usually – know something was.

      But I think it’s really really rare to see that kind of awareness in someone as young as Fitzgerald! He writes like an elegiac nostalgic old man. It’s quite amazing.

  6. hillary says:

    Hopping on the Gatsby train! It is an unhealthy obsession of mine. I never read it in High School, I was that procrastinator who could have had a perfect GPA but wasn’t commited to the work. As a young adult, literature has become my niche, and Fitzgerald one of my best friends. This Side Of Paradise put Fitz on the board, but it wasn’t GREAT, (in my humble opinion)… and The Beautiful & Damned was GREAT but a lengthy ride, lots of contrast to sift through, a big beautiful cake but you can’t really say exactly where the sugar ended up. Then, and only then, after The B&D, could he write the best short novel of all time— The Great Gatsby. It’s condensced, it’s FOCUSED, it is STEEPED with subtext that isn’t always seen in the first read. And yes, I’m a Gatsby Conspiracy Theorist. Everyone wants to talk about how Nick is likely gay and in love with both Gatsby and his cousin Daisy, or that Jordan is clearly gay and also plays a love interest for Daisy, but can we discuss the fact that Wilson did not kill Gatsby?? The reader is treated here as the public in West Egg would have been, the truth was concealed. The truth: Tom made the phonecall to Meyer Wolfsheim. A business proposal between two businessmen. Gatsby at that point was a tabloid nightmare and a loose end to Wolfsheim, the perfect scapegoat for both Tom & Wolfsheim. It was stated earlier that all of Gatsby’s workers were let go and replaced with WOLFSHEIM’s men, because Daisy was coming around more. So after taking his fateful dip, Gatsby was shot under the orders of Wolfsheim by his own men, then his death was pinned on poor Wilson, the man who couldn’t afford a chair to sit on much less a gun to kill Gatsby with. Also, we’re supposed to think Wilson walked all the way there? It’s brilliantly deceiving, there’s so much there!!!
    Both movies focus on none of this, staying true to the clear visuals of the book, each stunning in their own right. I think it was Ebert who said that the first film was greatly overdone. I’m not sure I agree with that, but the second film pushed those limits for sure. I am in love with both productions. Leo & Redford both were magnificient. Bruce Dern as Tom?! Only upstaged by Joel Edgerton! But Daisy always is elusive to me, even the book version of her carries more of my sympathy. On screen, both Mia Farrow & Carey Mulligan fall flat for me, in almost a silly way. I don’t know that anyone could do justice to such a character. But I’m confidant we haven’t seen the end to the adaptations!

    Was happy to join this thread today, Gatsby is a positive trigger for me. I needed this. I have a meeting today with a producer regarding my script and I wanted to thank you again for posting something relevant & inspiring. Wish me luck!! Cheers

  7. hillary says:

    PS You should give Carey Mulligan another glance! I hear you on her lacking screen presence, I felt the same way, but there’s a place for the muted beauty sometimes. Look for the hidden spark in her eyes, try Drive (2011) or Mudbound (2017). I think she can hold her own there, but yeah, she’s no firework and I won’t argue there. :)
    Friends worked with her here in New Orleans and I heard some really great things, really nice things.

  8. I think that I shall revisit Budd Schulberg’s The Disenchanted very soon

  9. Clary says:

    Those photographs have such an appeal to me, even the graphics of the bookplates, the whole era was an explosion of a new frame of mind. I can’t but think about how women changed so much in just the first 20 years of the XX century. If you see photographs of women in 1900 and then in 1920, the change is unbelievable. Poor mothers in their 40s trying to understand their 20 years old daughters. And with a World War in between.
    An interesting article appeared in The New York Review of Books about F. Scott Fitzgerald: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/10/08/f-scott-fitzgerald-oracle-unease/
    Have a good day/night.

    • sheila says:

      Clary – // I can’t but think about how women changed so much in just the first 20 years of the XX century. If you see photographs of women in 1900 and then in 1920, the change is unbelievable. //

      It really is. A world disappeared, a new one rose. In all honesty, I think that generation gap was the biggest of all. People always go on and on about the generation gap of the 50s – now, I wasn’t there for either era, but I think the gap between the Victorian-era parents and their Jazz Age children was almost incomprehensibly vast!

      and thank you for the article – I will check it out!

  10. Larry Aydlette says:

    I recently re-read The Pat Hobby Stories, which are so different from everybody’s vision of Fitzgerald — especially the fact that they’re light, quick and funny. They have interesting plot twists that make me wonder why F. Scott wasn’t more successful as a Hollywood hack. Those stories might be truer to Hollywood than The Last Tycoon.

    • sheila says:

      // make me wonder why F. Scott wasn’t more successful as a Hollywood hack. //

      I know what you mean! Interesting, in re: Pat Hobby – it’s been a while but I see what you’re saying completely.

      I’m not remembering who said this – maybe Billy Wilder? – I’ll see if I can track it down – but it was someone who knew FSF – who said that not once did Fitzgerald ask a screenwriter or a successful director “hey so what is it that makes a good screenplay” or “hey can you give me some tips on this script I wrote – how can I make it better” – He had no interest in learning what was required in this new environment. Maybe he felt it was beneath him, or he just felt like he had fallen so far he didn’t care to do well in Hollywood … I don’t know. He was such a sad guy, really.

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