Sweating the Scott out of Me

The picture above is the best thing I’ve ever seen.  When I first laid eyes on it, the little writer goose bumps on my arms woke up and stretched.  Whoever drew this was a freaking genius, and the tagline is second to none.  I’m slightly disappointed I hadn’t already come up with this myself.

I think F. Scott Fitzgerald might be the most charismatic novelist to have ever strutted the Earth.  The bookstores really should keep his works in a special location for fear they might catch the other books on fire. His shouldn’t even be available in paperback…that’s just asking for catastrophe. Something sizzles madly out of his books and I’ve been shocked a time or two by one of his masterpieces.

As I begin to even approach one of Fitzgerald’s writings, before a word has been read, I hear the Big Band music strike up from somewhere I can’t see.  I chase the music, never quite finding it, but smell the aroma of a fine cigar on the way.  Zelda’s perfume still lurks in the breeze, and something that can only be felt in Paris jolts my senses awake to something of another time.  Feeling his ghostly essence in the air, I open the dusty book cover, and let him have me.  I chase him about the pages the whole way, trying to reach out for the bottom of his coat, but knowing he is somewhere hanging out in 1927, somewhere I imagination will never fully conceive.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were fabulous people, and they couldn’t even help it.  Like the pink sunglasses he wears in the picture, his allure sat on is face like a quirky accessory.  However, that draw pulling people to him while the words spewed out of him, was attached.  Whether he was troubled, tormented, brilliant, or busted, he was wonderful.  He wore Zelda on his arm as perhaps one of his only flaws, and it made him all the more beautiful.  That troubled woman bled out of his hands and onto pages.  That endless wit spoke for his generation.  Even Hemingway was drawn  to him like metal to lightning.  Really, aren’t we all?

I think I love Fitzgerald so much because he got it.  He got that idea that sometimes I think I get.  He looks at things in their natural states, agrees with all the flaws, points them out even, but then decides to enjoy them anyway.  Sometimes he basks in superficial delights for the sake of joy, but never denies the fact that joy is a thin veneer over what’s really there.  He doesn’t think life is all roses and wine; however he will buy those roses and drink the hell out of that wine.  I think I do it this way too.  It’s how I stay sane.  I stare ugly in the face while toasting to all that’s beautiful.  Thanks, Fitzgerald, for paving my road, but without forsaking the unruly weeds…

Because I am enthralled with the person, I am intrigued by his works.  It’s so obvious Fitzgerald wrote because he had to, and he had no choice but to charm the page with delicious ink.  It was F. Scott, and it can’t be taught.  I don’t want to learn it either, though a little of him is in me out of pure adoration;  I just want to be it, drip with it…and one day when my novel is in a bookstore I want it to sweat the others out, making a sauna of that place because I, by God, dropped it like F. Scott, sweated him and myself both out of my pores, and made scalding literature that will leave the test of time in flames.

And now, a few of my favorite lines from the master to finish us off…

“Often people display a curious respect for a man drunk,  rather like the respect of simple races for the insane… There is something  awe-inspiring in one who has lost all inhibitions.”

“After all, life hasn’t much to offer except youth, and I  suppose for older people, the love of youth in others.”

“In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock  in the morning, day after day.”

“Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of  defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper  satisfactions that come out of struggle.”

“Riches have never fascinated me, unless combined with the  greatest charm or distinction.”

“To write it, it took three months; to conceive it three  minutes; to collect the data in it all my life.”  (On writing a book…so true)


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