Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"A Cracked Plate" or Genius?

Speaking of F. Scott Fitzgerald—as I so often am; see below—the Guardian has posted an edited version of an interview with him by Michael Mok, published in the New York Post, on September 25, 1936. (Fitzgerald died in 1940; The Great Gatsby was published in 1925.)

Which is more sad, reading that during the course of the interview, Fitzgerald kept popping over for another nip from a “hidden” bottle of booze:

Physically he was suffering the aftermath of an accident eight weeks ago, when he broke his right shoulder in a dive from a 15- foot springboard. But whatever pain the fracture might still cause him, it did not account for his jittery jumping off and on to his bed, his restless pacing, his trembling hands, his twitching face with its pitiful expression of a cruelly beaten child.
“Nor could it be held responsible for his frequent trips to a highboy, in a drawer of which lay a bottle. Each time he poured a drink into the measuring glass on his bedside table, he would look appealingly at the nurse and ask, "Just one ounce?"

Or this, his heartbreaking self-assessment, from an autobiographical article published in Esquire magazine prior to the interview in which:

“Fitzgerald described himself as "a cracked plate". “Sometimes, though," he wrote, "the cracked plate has to be retained in the pantry, has to be kept in service as a household necessity. It can never again be warmed on the stove nor shuffled with the other plates in the dishpan; it will not be brought out for company, but it will do to hold crackers late at night or to go into the ice box under the leftovers.”

So poignant to think he saw himself this way…

(Link via Bookslut.)

Bonus: Here’s a photo of Fitzgerald from 1937 in which he manages to look moderately hopeful. Photo source here.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.