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F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

At one time considered one of America's greatest authors, nowadays Scott is mostly read because he's assigned reading in high school or college. That said, The Great Gatsby definitely merits its fame, and it has one of the best crafted stories ever written. It's also highly realistic. That is, when you finish reading it, you know there's a moral there somewhere, but you really can't say what it is.

Sadly, Scott has emerged somewhat as a one-hit wonder. His other books (four novels) and his various short stories don't really compare to the classic Gatsby. Part of the problem was Scott's lifestyle. He was what today we'd politely call a party animal. But in more plain spoken (and honest) terms we have to say he was a boozer of the first order. This caused some tarnishing of his image even in his own lifetime to the point that his last years were the subject of the movie "Beloved Infidel" where Gregory Peck played a downward spiraling Scott.

But more damaging to Scott's reputation were the stories that were circulated by his one time friend, Ernest Hemingway. Today most people take Ernest's accounts from A Moveable Feast as virtual gospel, and Carlos Baker, Ernest's earliest academic biographer, never seriously questioned Ernest's objectivity. However, later writers noted that there were warning signs available for the wary, and we need to remember that according to A. E. Hotchner, Ernest loved to indulge in what Hotch called "practical joke fantasy". So we really should cut Scott some slack and not take Ernest's tales without corroboration. (For a little more about Scott and Ernest, click here.)

But still, go down to you local mall bookstore (while they last) and check out books by Scott. Almost seventy years after his death, they're still there.