Bump, bump! — dropping off the end of the pavement onto the abandoned dirt road. I could almost feel it as I read the words “Here ends Fitzgerald’s manuscript” and continued on through notes he had written about how he intended to finish The Last Tycoon. Up until then, I had enjoyed reading this final novel at least as much as any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s other works. He was a master of character analysis told through action. It’s a pity that a sudden heart attack interrupted his work.
I have now read four of Fitzgerald’s five novels all in a row. The only reason why I omitted his second novel, The Beautiful And The Damned, is because I don’t own a copy. I received a set of only four novels among other books from my first wife when we separated. I could be making this up, but I think they had belonged to her parents who were Pentecostals and therefore disposed of the one book because of the word “damned” in the title. If they had read the other books, I’m sure they would have gotten rid of them, too.
Of all of Fitzgerald’s novels, my favorite turned out to be — not The Great Gatsby, but rather Tender Is The Night. This story bored me at first, but I stuck with it on the strength of the pleasure I derived from Fitzgerald’s earlier novels and my own stubbornness about finishing a book once I’ve started it. By the end of the first “book,” however, he had me hooked. This story penetrated me in ways that I can’t even talk about yet.
All in all, my journey with Fitzgerald delighted me. As with most popular notions, the picture of the dismal spokesman for The Lost Generation falls far short of the man it’s meant to portray. I’m only sorry he didn’t write more.