Monday, March 18, 2013

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Love of the Last Tycoon

His last, unfinished novel, of course.  Which means I've run the course with Fitzgerald, as far as full-length works go.  I've been pretty hard on, because disappointed in, FSF regarding most things except for Gatsby.  But this one was a pleasant surprise.  Well, not entirely pleasant, because of course it's unfinished.  But I came away from it feeling that Fitzgerald died, perhaps, just when he was beginning to get interesting. 

It's well known that this work is a product of Fitzgerald's failed Hollywood stint, and that it's a roman a clef of Irving Thalberg.  Which means that it's not about Fitzgerald himself, and not about Zelda.  Did his failure in Hollywood humble Fitzgerald?  Did he realize that there were worlds out there and people who didn't care about the Riviera and its denizens?  Did it knock him out of himself? 

If so, it seems to have been all to the good.  Even in its fragmented, blurry state this is one of the most focused things I've read by Fitzgerald.  The characters stand out in sharp relief;  they're largely new types in Fitzgerald, doing new things, talking in new ways.  The descriptions, the scenes, are carefully observed and rendered. And you get the feeling that all of this is possible because Fitzgerald has been forced to look at something outside himself and his familiar, self-reflecting world for a change.  And he had the good sense to write down what he saw.

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