3 Must-Reads By F. Scott Fitzgerald

F Scott Fitzgerald

L-R: F. Scotty Fitz, his only child, a daughter, “Scottie”, and wife Zelda Sayre

In case you didn’t know by now, F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author.  Not only was he an amazing writer, but he was one of those figures in history that lived fast, died young(ish), and should have left a beautiful corpse (oh he was stunning to gawk at…even on bad hair days), but apparently the mortician didn’t do a very good job, slopping makeup everywhere. (Jerk!)

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary works are known the world over for their heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions of one of the fastest decades in the 20th century—the 1920s.  And like most good writers, a lot of it (dare I say most of it) was based on his wild life with his wife Zelda Sayre.

While a brilliant and gifted writer, my beautiful, darling Scotty had some wicked demons.  He had a rough time keeping his finances under control, living way above his means, and his alcoholism was just as famous as he was. He practically lived on booze, and often wrote while sozzled.

Scott often claimed that he had tuberculosis.  Some have dismissed this as one of his excuses to cover up his drinking, while others, such as Scott’s biographer, Matthew J. Bruccoli, claim that he did, in fact, have the disease.  Whether or not he did have it is not an issue now.  What is proven is that his heavy drinking and chain-smoking took a fatal toll on his health.

His vices enlarged his heart and caused the arteries around it to harden.  He suffered several coronary episodes in the last years of his life, and on December 20, 1940 he collapsed in his girlfriend Sheilah Grahame’s apartment and could not be revived.

A terrible end for a tumultuous (yet wonderful) life.

It’s been nearly 73 years since Fitzgerald’s death, but the words he wrote are immortal.

If you are new to Fitzgerald, or you’re perhaps looking for a page turner to take along with you to the  beach (or park, or a long plane ride to Paris, or whatever), the following 3 masterpieces should be on the top your reading list.  They are the reason why I believe Scotty was (and still is) the greatest writer who ever lived.

1.  The Great Gatsby

Cover of "The Great Gatsby"

Cover of The Great Gatsby

Ah, Gatsby.  Required reading for nearly every high school student in America.  Even if you have never read the book, you are familiar with at least one of the gazillion big and small screen adaptions.  (They are releasing yet another next month, which I will avoid at all costs.  I’m already upset by the previews.)

It is a story of lust, obsession, murder, and the Nouveau Riche of Long Island in 1922.  The whole thing is narrated by this bloke called Nick Carraway and has an ending that, if you are green to Scotty’s work, you will not see coming.

2.  Tender is the Night

Cover of "Tender is the Night"

Cover of Tender is the Night

If it wasn’t my obsessive attachment to Gatsby, Tender would be on the top of my list as the greatest piece of literature ever written.  My God.  This is an absolutely stunning novel.  The imagery of the French Rivera, the characters, the writing—they are all perfect.  Even Ernest Hemingway (Fitzgerald’s best frienemy) praised it and called it a masterpiece.  And that old jerk never had anything nice to say about anything.

This novel gives you a peek into Fitzgerald’s real life more than anything he had written before.  It is the tale that centers around a doctor, Dick Diver (stop snickering), and his wife Nicole.  Nicole frequently has mental breakdowns and Dick suffers immensely under the weight of trying to care for her.  He meets the rising starlet Rosemary Hoyt and it is a page-turner from there.  You won’t be able to put this book down for hours.  (Unless you’re my mom, who hates it…but she reads Harlequin, so she’s not the best judge…sorry, mom. :p)

3.  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Benjamin Button

Benjamin Button (Photo credit: jimwhimpey)

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT bother with the film starring Brad Pitt as Benjamin if you haven’t already seen it.  It bears very little resemblance to the beautiful fantasy that flowed off of Fitzgerald’s fingers onto the paper he wrote it on.  At best, the film should be called a “very loose adaption.”

Now that I have that out of the way… Benjamin Button is a brilliant short story about a baby who was born an old man.  It freaked out his father the first time he saw the “baby” in the crib at the hospital.  It was actually an old man with a long white beard, his legs dangling over the side of the crib.

His parents did the best they could raising this special “child”, and as the years progressed, Benjamin became younger and younger…until his own children have to care for him as if he is one of their own children.

It is a touching and extremely humorous story about how to cope with life when it throws bizarre, and difficult, situations at you. Much different than the monstrosity on the big screen that makes you want to slit your wrists and die when you finally reach the end.

Now please run along and find your copy of all these stories and read them..and re-read them at least 100 times and have every word committed to memory.  If I can do it, so can you!

Are you already a fan of F. Scotty Fitz?  What are some of your favorites?  Please share by leaving a comment below!

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11 thoughts on “3 Must-Reads By F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Laura

    I read the Great Gatsby in 9th grade English class. Our teacher made the words come alive ~not by having us watch the movie ~ but rather reading excerpts from it while touring the mansions where the movie was made. Fitzgerald’s words came alive as we roamed and wandered Newport!
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  2. MamaRed

    What a wonderful way to share your passion for this amazing writer and lover of life. Yup, his excesses definitely took him earlier than if he would have care for himself. AND, can you imagine him any other way? It has been probably 30 years since I read Gatsby and I’ve never read the others. Thanks for providing an almost visceral feel for the books! Dang, now to add to my reading list. I think I *should* read and research for a living, then I would have an “excuse” for sitting around with my coffee and a great book (smile)
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Nope, I honestly can’t imagine him any other way. And I think that is why I love him so. ;p He was a tragic figure, and I DO love tragic figures.

      Also, I suggest The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is a fabulous collection that gives details of when and where the original stories were published. He often submitted to magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. That’s (one of the places) where you can find The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
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  3. Jocelyn Kelly

    Angie, I’m so excited to see Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night” among your list of top favorites. I really think it’s an underrated and under-appreciated novel. It’s so vibrant and that dramatic tone and style change in the middle when the novel shifts perspectives is so brilliant and captivating. As a writer and a reader, I was in total awe. That novel changed how I read books from that point forward.
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    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Words really cannot describe how breathtaking that book is, can they? I stayed up for three whole days reading that book the first time around. :D

      I think I am the only one who wanted Dick to run off and live happily ever after with Rosemary. My mother HATES Rosemary.
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