F. Scott Fitzgerald Says “Read This!”

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F. Scott Fitzgerald was very ill in 1936 and was recovering at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina with the help of a private nurse.  In addition to his failing health, the author was struggling with the decision to commit his wife, Zelda, to a mental institution at a nearby hospital.  His essay about his own decline, The Crack-Up, had just been published in Esquire.  Here, Fitzgerald voices an incredibly sad awareness of his own decline:  “[M]y life had been a drawing on resources that I did not possess, that I had been mortgaging myself physically and spiritually up to the hilt,” he wrote.

It didn’t seem that anything could go right that year.  Fitzgerald’s drinking had become increasingly problematic and he had significant money problems.  That summer, he “fractured his shoulder while diving into the hotel swimming pool, and sometime later, according to Michael Cody at the University of South Carolina’s Fitzgerald Web site, “he fired a revolver in a suicide threat, after which the hotel refused to let him stay without a nurse.” (Source)

Eventually, the hotel relented and allowed Fitzgerald to have an attendant, a woman named Dorothy Richardson, who, in addition to tending to his physical needs, had the unenviable task of keeping the writer from drinking too much.

The two developed a friendship during his convalescence. At one point, apparently Dorothy asked what she should read.  Here is the list Fitzgerald gave her, written in her own hand as he reeled off the titles and author’s names:

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Here is a  more legible list.

(Source)


“Eight Million Stories”: Humans of New York Project

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“There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.” -  From The Naked City

In 2010, Brandon Stanton lost his job as a trader in Chicago.  Despite his mother’s objections, Stanton moved to New York City to pursue the latest thing with which he had become “borderline-obsessed“:  photography.

At first, Stanton was only snapping pictures of the city’s residents. His original goal was simply “to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map.”  But after a few months, Stanton began adding captions and commentary to the photographs.   “Taken together,” the photographer explains,  “these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog, which over the past two years has gained a large daily following. With nearly one million collective followers on Facebook and Tumblr, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.”

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald called New York City the “wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”  Some eighty-eight years later, it still holds all that mystery and beauty, and through his lens and careful attention, Stanton helps develop those stories in colorful resolution.

The following are just a few of my favorite images and stories. Follow Humans of New York here.

 

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Ten Cocktails for You, From Literature

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If you’ve ever hosted or been to a book club meeting, you know that you will discuss the book in question for approximately ten to fifteen minutes before the conversation turns to sex. Why not at least attempt to keep things on a literary bent (and bender) and try something besides chardonnay. Here are ten cocktails that characters were drinking in novels, links to their recipes, and some quotes to make you sound super smart, especially to that one snotty chick nobody likes but always brings good food so we keep our mouths shut.

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1.  Gin Gimlet – Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

“You talk too damn much and too damn much of it is about you.”

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2.  Singapore Sling,  Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“We can’t stop here, this is bat country!”

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New Fiction by… F. Scott Fitzgerald?

We already know that most, if not all, of the world’s most celebrated writers had their fair share of rejection before shooting to literary fame. It comes as no surprise, then, that F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer of The Great Gatsby, was at one point turned away by such an elite publication as The New Yorker.

Back in 1936, before Fitzgerald was a household name but eleven years after the publication of his most famous work, he was turned away for a short story titled “Thank You for the Light.” It’s a “mildly fantastical” piece about a traveling saleswoman addicted to cigarettes, desperate to smoke in a disapproving town. The subject matter and tone of the work was slightly our of character for Fitzgerald, as The New Yorker staff’s reaction shows.

The magazine wrote in an internal message that it was “altogether out of the question. It seems to us so curious and so unlike the kind of thing we associate with him and really too fantastic.”

Not having seen the light of day since that rejection, the story has been given a second chance by the publication thanks to a fateful turn of events. While clearing the vault for a Sotheby’s auction of Fitzgerald’s works, his grandchildren discovered this secret story for the first time. Advised by Fitzgerald scholar James West, they resubmitted it to the magazine. Thankfully, this time it was accepted.

An entertaining and quick read, “Thank you for the Light” appears in The New Yorker‘s August 6th issue, and can be read online here.


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