Stewart O’Nan has done it again.
I very much enjoyed immersing myself in the world of 1930s Hollywood, with F. Scott Fitzgerald as my guide and O’Nan as my story teller. A transporting imagination of the final years of Fitzgerald’s troubled life, as he struggles unsuccessfully to redeem himself as a husband, father, and author while working as a Hollywood script doctor.
Time has not been kind to the Fitzgeralds, who are long past their hey-day as poster children for the Roaring Twenties. While Zelda fades away in an asylum back East, F. Scott wrestles with his own demons in the California sunshine, struggling over a novel he hopes will revive his literary career and pay off his debts. An affair with an industry gossip columnist isn’t enough to stem Fitzgerald’s drug and alcohol-fueled descent as the story leads to its inevitable conclusion. Along the way, cameos by the likes of Bogart and Dorothy Parker give color and context to the setting in Hollywood’s golden age.
Beautifully written, vivid in place, and personality, this book reaffirmed for me why O’Nan remains one of my favorite authors.