Although his body of work is small and his output was terribly inconsistent due to his lifestyle, The Great Gatsby is still one of my favorite novels. I read it again recently because I bought a used copy at Half Price Books for my trip to Las Vegas but thanks to the Timeshare adventure and cold weather, I never got around to touching it. However, when it arrived in my queue of books to read, I still had the same hard time putting down which was my experience with it 20 years earlier.
The stories about the Roaring Twenties told by my grandparents (they were teenagers when it began) are quite different from Fitzgearald’s because they had less glamorous careers in the Midwest. Yet Gatsby nails the zeitgeist of the period or at least how many wanted it remembered. This probably explains why I enjoy the works of Douglas Coupland, he’s pretty solid on those factors for my age bracket.
I’ve also read This Side of Paradise which isn’t as solid since Fitzgerald was learning as a writer and it shows, especially with the story turning into a play midway through. The short stories he did were probably his real strength and this is how I was introduced to him as a kid. Back when my mother returned to college, she took a class dedicated to his work. I think there’s a semester’s worth of material to do it; if there are classes on JD Salinger, then Fitzgerald is feasible. Several of the stories were presented in an audio format and I was intrigued by “The Offshore Pirate.” Looking back, it really wasn’t about what I thought it was; fake pirates who crash Florida parties. It’s practically free to read on the Internet so I can get re-acquainted with it.
I’m going to keep today’s birthday tribute short though. As a great treat, the Guardian recently post an interview with him from the archies of the New York Post, decades before Murdoch turned into a trash paper. Sadly, it took place in 1936, in the heart of the Depression and he was trying to get by in Hollywood.