LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: TODAY IS THE DAY.
I’d Die for You has finally been released. And if you like F. Scott Fitzgerald as much as I do, you’ve got to read this.
I’m not going to say that it’s his best writing (in my opinion, “Babylon Revisited” will always be one of the finest pieces of American literature), but it’s delightful. This collection of short stories consists of previously unpublished works that often have the beginnings of his other writings. While the writing itself is lovely (and very telling of his state of mind in each piece), it’s the context that makes this wonderful.
Basically, look at I’d Die for You as a Fitzgeraldian Go Set a Watchman: worthy of reading based on its own merits, but even more delightful when taken in context of its composition and its place in the author’s story. For Fitzgerald, it’s all down to the editor of the collection, Anne Margaret Daniel, who provides insight into the stories as well as scans of draft pages and pictures from the Fitzgerald collection. As someone who hates reading introductions first because they can spoil the work, I appreciated Daniel’s statement early on that the reader should read the story first, then go back and read the introduction just in case she includes a spoiler.
And then there are the stories. Honestly, I don’t have a favorite from this collection because there’s so much. Daniel has included some of the Hollywood treatments and film ideas, as well as stories that deal with more mature topics. Instead of having a bunch of cheery jazzy love stories, there are musings on divorce, torture (in the historical story “Thumbs Up,” which might be one of my favorites), and the darker parts of society. I mean, this isn’t to say that Fitzgerald has never dealt with serious topics, but in these stories there were definitely some moments when I was surprised by how explicit the un-jazzy bits were.
But my goodness, I loved the whole thing.
And yes, I know the whole point of this blog is to be honest, but I also say that any review is totally biased. This is one case where I know I’m going to be biased, and biased beyond belief. Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers of all time, but most definitely my favorite American writer. As I told my sister, I wouldn’t have cared if it was the worst collection of stories in the world – I think Fitzgerald’s writing alone is worth reading any number of pages, and luckily this turned out to be delightful.
In addition to I’d Die for You, I’ve finished Indian Creek Chronicles by Pete Fromm, and I’ve got to say that it brought me great joy. It’s definitely the kind of book I’d recommend to high school boys who want to go out into the world and make their own way. My dad handed this one to me because one of my Reading Challenge 2017 books was “set in the wilderness” and the fact that this guy went as a college kid to live in the wilderness for a winter… I figured it counted.
Basic idea: Pete Fromm goes into the wild for the winter to watch a river where salmon are going to be hatching. He does this to earn some cash and to live out his dreams of being a mountain man. He quickly realizes that being a mountain man is difficult, and that all the stories are basically lies. It’s funny, and also has a lot of tragic moments of his understanding of civilization and nature (namely that humans wait until spring when it’s easy to march in and hunt the animals who have been a part of his world for the winter).
As a twenty-something woman, I had to tell my dad that, much as I liked it (and I really did), I can’t believe anyone would volunteer to go live in the woods for a winter when he has no experience. And then I pointed out it must be a man-thing. (No offense to the male population, but I can’t imagine a woman in college happily volunteering to live in a tent for five months — I’d be happy to be proven wrong if someone has done this herself, but I’m not expecting to have an overwhelming number of comments telling me I’m wrong.) That’s why I think it’s great for the young man in your life (or if you’re like me and just want a good outdoorsy book) — this is a real man vs. nature struggle, and it’s told with great humor and writing.
So today has been a day of gloriously different reading material: the delightfully dizzying prose of Fitzgerald and the funny but poignant wilderness story of Fromm. Both two thumbs up, both on my list of books to read again.
Because it’s Tuesday and I was having a pretty garbage day until I got my Fitzgerald, I’m going to end on a piece of Scott’s wisdom.
Keep testing your first-rate intelligence, and happy reading!