A word about F. Scott Fitzgerald…
Since the world is gearing up for Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” this weekend, I thought I would chime in with my two cents.
I loved “The Great Gatsby” in high school, and I love it now. While I expect the movie to be not so great (I’m sorry, I do), I am excited about a possible revival in all things “Fitzgerald” and “Jazz Age-y”. Regarding my foreboding feelings about the film (and who knows, I may love it), there are just some books that shouldn’t transcend into the cinematic realm, and “Gatsby” is one of them.
Why? I don’t know exactly, but I think it has something to do with the cadence and rhythm of Fitzgerald’s language that is just so hard for modern-day actors and writers to capture. I also think that I don’t want to be reminded that the 20s is a by-gone era. Because to be honest, when you read Fitzgerald, it is almost like you are right there. Put on some flapper costumes and throw in an over-stylized set, and the magic is just gone.
And almost no film should be put into 3-D. Seriously.
But, getting back to my buddy F. Scott, may I suggest two books by or featuring Fitzgerald as an alternative to re-reading (or maybe reading it for the first time) “The Great Gatsby” in anticipation of the film?
“Jazz Age Stories”- F. Scott Fitzgerald
“A Moveable Feast”- Ernest Hemingway
Both novels (although “Jazz Age Stories” is a collection of shorts) offer completely different views of the 20s and the joie de vivre of the age. F. Scott is featured in Hemingway’s novel (they were friends, briefly) around the time he was writing “Gatsby”, and although “A Moveable Feast” is largely fiction, the way Hemingway writes about Fitzgerald as a writer and given that his portrayal is coming from a writer’s point of view (who was somewhat in awe and maybe jealous of Fitzgerald too), his view offers a unique portrait of a sad man writing about a glorious era, while managing to not have a ton of fun himself.
“Jazz Age Stories”, on the other hand, are short vignettes written by Fitzgerald during various stages of his career. Some stories are better or have more depth than others, but all of them are wicked little peepholes into a great time period. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as much as I like Fitzgerald’s full novels, and I think it is a great addition to anyone’s repertoire, fan or not of the author.
If you’ve seen the movie, or have a comment about the book “Gatsby”, please feel free to leave it here!