Stop everything and read this first of a new series of columns about writing in the Wall Street Journal. Fitzgerald is a master of description, and writer Blake Bailey is a master at conveying the evidence concisely:
"In "The Lost Weekend," the alcoholic protagonist Don Birnam pretends to teach his favorite novel, "The Great Gatsby," to an audience of students, all agog: F. Scott Fitzgerald, he says, "has the one thing that a novelist needs: a truly seeing eye."
"I've said as much to my own students, in the course of asking them, say, to describe a lawn. They shrug. Blink. "It's green," one of them invariably says. "Grassy." Here's how Fitzgerald describes one: "The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens—finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run."
"The lawn ran? The lawn jumped? Is it an ill-tended lawn? Obviously not, because it's so sleek and swift, in such a well-groomed hurry to dash over every obstacle and splash itself festively against the bricks…."
Read the rest here. (Thanks, Steve, for the link!)
More on Gatz, the 8-hour show in which the entire text of The Great Gatsby is read/interpreted:
“Gatz director John Collins says the first 45 minutes of the performance are the toughest for him, as he senses the audience's fear that they will simply be "watching some guy read." But he says the show makes a deeper connection with theatergoers because they see the transformation of the character reading the book over many hours and begin to feel a kinship with him."
(Thanks, Steve, for this link, too…thank goodness I know someone who reads the Wall Street Journal!)