Monday, December 28, 2015

Reading Scott and Zelda: "What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story" - F.S. Fitzgerald

5 by FitzgeraldThis year, I re-read the five novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the lone novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.
Gatsby remains one of the most brilliant novels in English. The others are generally good and show sparks of brilliance, but never with the concise clarity in Gatsby. Only in his short stories does he show the same spark.

Zelda's novel, which twins with Tender is the Night, provides another take on a marriage destroyed by fame, madness, and riches.

Below are my highlights from these "six tales of the Jazz Age and ex-pat life in Europe."



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This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

All in all Beatrice O'Hara absorbed the sort of education that will be quite impossible ever again; a tutelage measured by the number of things and people one could be contemptuous of and charming about; a culture rich in all arts and traditions, barren of all ideas, in the last of those days when the great gardener clipped the inferior roses to produce one perfect bud.

You will admit that if it was not life it was magnificent.

It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being. This, too, was quite characteristic of Amory.

Flirt smiled from her large black-brown eyes and shone through her intense physical magnetism.

Amory usually liked men individually, yet feared them in crowds unless the crowd was around him.

SHE: I make rules to fit the cases.

GILLESPIE: And you haven't kissed me for two weeks. I had an idea that after a girl was kissed she was—was—won. ROSALIND: Those days are over. I have to be won all over again every time you see me.

ALEC: (Still thoughtfully) She won't marry him, but a girl doesn't have to marry a man to break his heart.

ROSALIND: I'd rather keep it as a beautiful memory—tucked away in my heart. AMORY: Yes, women can do that—but not men. I'd remember always, not the beauty of it while it lasted, but just the bitterness, the long bitterness. ROSALIND: Don't!

"For this is wisdom—to love and live, To take what fate or the gods may give, To ask no question, to make no prayer, To kiss the lips and caress the hair, Speed passion's ebb as we greet its flow, To have and to hold, and, in time—let go."

"Well," Amory considered, "I'm not sure that the war itself had any great effect on either you or me—but it certainly ruined the old backgrounds, sort of killed individualism out of our generation."

Life is too huge and complex.

War used to be the most individualistic pursuit of man, and yet the popular heroes of the war had neither authority nor responsibility: Guynemer and Sergeant York. How could a schoolboy make a hero of Pershing? A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big."

"We want to believe. Young students try to believe in older authors, constituents try to believe in their Congressmen, countries try to believe in their statesmen, but they can't. Too many voices, too much scattered, illogical, ill-considered criticism.

"Try fiction," suggested Tom. "Trouble is I get distracted when I start to write stories—get afraid I'm doing it instead of living—get thinking maybe life is waiting for me in the Japanese gardens at the Ritz or at Atlantic City or on the lower East Side.

No, sir, the girl really worth having won't wait for anybody.

You make a great mistake if you think you can be romantic without religion.

Good Lord! supposing she wasn't beautiful—supposing she was forty and pedantic—heavens!

"I'm not sentimental—I'm as romantic as you are. The idea, you know, is that the sentimental person thinks things will last—the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won't." 

"Yes—I was perhaps an egotist in youth, but I soon found it made me morbid to think too much about myself."

He stretched out his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky. "I know myself," he cried, "but that is all."


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"Beautiful & the Damned"
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Until the time came for this effort he would be Anthony Patch—not a portrait of a man but a distinct and dynamic personality, opinionated, contemptuous, functioning from within outward—a man who was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the sophistry of courage and yet was brave.

The interest of the two young men was not particularly technical. They were in love with generalities.

He felt often like a scarcely tolerated guest at a party she was giving.

"April 24th.—I want to marry Anthony, because husbands are so often 'husbands' and I must marry a lover.

Marriage was created not to be a background but to need one.

The clerk thought that Gloria was beautiful. He did not think that anything so beautiful as Gloria could be moral.

On their way East they stopped two days in Washington, strolling about with some hostility in its atmosphere of harsh repellent light, of distance without freedom, of pomp without splendor—it seemed a pasty-pale and self-conscious city. The second day they made an ill-advised trip to General Lee's old home at Arlington.

Eventually the bus moved on to Arlington. There it met other busses and immediately a swarm of women and children were leaving a trail of peanut-shells through the halls of General Lee and crowding at length into the room where he was married. On the wall of this room a pleasing sign announced in large red letters "Ladies' Toilet." At this final blow Gloria broke down.

"Don't you want to preserve old things?" "But you can't, Anthony. Beautiful things grow to a certain height and then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay. And just as any period decays in our minds, the things of that period should decay too, and in that way they're preserved for a while in the few hearts like mine that react to them.

Gloria was a driver of many eccentricities and of infinite carelessness.

"Oh, yes; that part about the wise writer writing for the youth of his generation, the critic of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterward."

"These days seem so short—June seemed—to—have—longer days when I was a little girl."

Life was no more than this summer afternoon; a faint wind stirring the lace collar of Gloria's dress; the slow baking drowsiness of the veranda…. Intolerably unmoved they all seemed, removed from any romantic imminency of action. Even Gloria's beauty needed wild emotions, needed poignancy, needed death….

I'm a Catholic but, as I always say, I'm not working at it.

He's a man who prefers the first edition of a book to the last edition of a newspaper.

But, as always, they were sorry for each other for the wrong things at the wrong times….

He merely slid into the matter through his inability to make definite judgments.

"Dear little Dot, life is so damned hard." She was crying upon his shoulder. "So damned hard, so damned hard," he repeated aimlessly; "it just hurts people and hurts people, until finally it hurts them so that they can't be hurt ever any more. That's the last and worst thing it does."

"What's death to me is just a lot of words to you. You put 'em together so pretty."

[S]he revelled in some novels of Galsworthy's, whom she liked for his power of recreating, by spring in darkness, that illusion of young romantic love to which women look forever forward and forever back.

"ODI PROFANUM VULGUS"

"Millions of people," she said, "swarming like rats, chattering like apes, smelling like all hell … monkeys! Or lice, I suppose. For one really exquisite palace … on Long Island, say—or even in Greenwich … for one palace full of pictures from the Old World and exquisite things—with avenues of trees and green lawns and a view of the blue sea, and lovely people about in slick dresses … I'd sacrifice a hundred thousand of them, a million of them."

Mrs. and Miss Hulme, like most people, abominated mirrors of their atavistic selves.

"Why, of course. Aristocracy's only an admission that certain traits which we call fine—courage and honor and beauty and all that sort of thing—can best be developed in a favorable environment, where you don't have the warpings of ignorance and necessity."

The successful man tells his son to profit by his father's good fortune, and the failure tells his son to profit by his father's mistakes."

Poetry is dying first. It'll be absorbed into prose sooner or later. For instance, the beautiful word, the colored and glittering word, and the beautiful simile belong in prose now. To get attention poetry has got to strain for the unusual word, the harsh, earthy word that's never been beautiful before.



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"Gread Gattsby"

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

IN MY YOUNGER and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

...for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.

...a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.

If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.

No—Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.

She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)

It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’

Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom’s, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. “Sophisticated—God, I’m sophisticated!”

“Is she from New York?” I asked quickly. “From Louisville. Our white girlhood was passed together there. Our beautiful white——”

As for Tom, the fact that he “had some woman in New York” was really less surprising than that he had been depressed by a book.

But I didn’t call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone—he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far way, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.

“It was on the two little seats facing each other that are always the last ones left on the train. I was going up to New York to see my sister and spend the night. He had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, but every time he looked at me I had to pretend to be looking at the advertisement over his head. When we came into the station he was next to me, and his white shirt-front pressed against my arm, and so I told him I’d have to call a policeman, but he knew I lied. I was so excited that when I got into a taxi with him I didn’t hardly know I wasn’t getting into a subway train. All I kept thinking about, over and over, was ‘You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever.’”

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

When the Jazz History of the World was over, girls were putting their heads on men’s shoulders in a puppyish, convivial way, girls were swooning backward playfully into men’s arms, even into groups, knowing that some one would arrest their falls—but no one swooned backward on Gatsby, and no French bob touched Gatsby’s shoulder, and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby’s head for one link.

Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply—I was casually sorry, and then I forgot.

“Suppose you met somebody just as careless as yourself.” “I hope I never will,” she answered. “I hate careless people. That’s why I like you.”

But I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself definitely out of that tangle back home.

Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.

“Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge,” I thought; “anything at all. . . .”

It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people. You can hold your tongue, and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don’t see or care.

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.”

Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs, and so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms. Her wan, scornful mouth smiled, and so I drew her up again closer, this time to my face.

Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.

He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher—shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.”

“If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”

Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.

No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. “I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

So the whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in her eyes.

That any one should care in this heat whose flushed lips he kissed, whose head made damp the pajama pocket over his heart!

“What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?” cried Daisy, “and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”

“Don’t be morbid,” Jordan said. “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

“She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of—” I hesitated. “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly.

That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . . High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl....

“I love New York on summer afternoons when every one’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it—overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.”

“I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that’s the idea you can count me out.

“We’re all white here,” murmured Jordan.

“You’re revolting,” said Daisy. She turned to me, and her voice, dropping an octave lower, filled the room with thrilling scorn: “Do you know why we left Chicago? I’m surprised that they didn’t treat you to the story of that little spree.”

“Oh, you want too much!” she cried to Gatsby. “I love you now—isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.”

“Go on. He won’t annoy you. I think he realizes that his presumptuous little flirtation is over.”

I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade.

Thirty—the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.

But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age.

So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.

It was this night that he told me the strange story of his youth with Dan Cody—told it to me because “Jay Gatsby” had broken up like glass against Tom’s hard malice, and the long secret extravaganza was played out.

He knew that Daisy was extraordinary, but he didn’t realize just how extraordinary a “nice” girl could be. She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby—nothing. He felt married to her, that was all.

I’ve always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we’d been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time. His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps, and I thought of the night when I first came to his ancestral home, three months before. The lawn and drive had been crowded with the faces of those who guessed at his corruption—and he had stood on those steps, concealing his incorruptible dream, as he waved them good-by.

It was after we started with Gatsby toward the house that the gardener saw Wilson’s body a little way off in the grass, and the holocaust was complete.

“When a man gets killed I never like to get mixed up in it in any way. I keep out. When I was a young man it was different—if a friend of mine died, no matter how, I stuck with them to the end. You may think that’s sentimental, but I mean it—to the bitter end.”

“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead,” he suggested. “After that, my own rule is to let everything alone.”

“I couldn’t get to the house,” he remarked. “Neither could anybody else.” “Go on!” He started. “Why, my God! they used to go there by the hundreds.” He took off his glasses and wiped them again, outside and in. “The poor son-of-a-bitch,” he said.

I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all—Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.

“Nevertheless you did throw me over,” said Jordan suddenly. “You threw me over on the telephone. I don’t give a damn about you now, but it was a new experience for me, and I felt a little dizzy for a while.”

“Oh, and do you remember”—she added—“a conversation we had once about driving a car?” “Why—not exactly.” “You said a bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver? Well, I met another bad driver, didn’t I? I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.”

“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”

Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away.

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made....

One night I did hear a material car there, and saw its lights stop at his front steps. But I didn’t investigate. Probably it was some final guest who had been away at the ends of the earth and didn’t know that the party was over.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.



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"Save Me the Waltz"

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

It took her a long time to learn to think of life unromantically as a long, continuous exposition of isolated events, to think of one emotional experience as preparation to another.

Being in love, she concluded, is simply a presentation of our pasts to another individual, mostly packages so unwieldy that we can no longer manage the loosened strings alone.

“Most people feel nowadays that marriage and life do not go together,” said the American gentleman.

“I am only really myself when I’m somebody else whom I have endowed with these wonderful qualities from my imagination.”

Anything incomprehensible has a sexual significance to many people under thirty-five.

It’s funny how associations envelop our lives.”

“Oh, dear,” said Dickie philosophically, “Gabrielle can’t speak English when she’s drunk. Liquor makes her highbrow.”

“I was thinking, Mr. Hastings,” said Alabama tenaciously, “that I would like somebody to lock me up in a spiritual chastity belt.”

“Yet you can’t stay with me! What’s the use of having a wife? If a woman’s only to sleep with there are plenty available for that——” “What’s the use of having a husband or anything else? You suddenly find you have them all the same, and there you are.”

The life at home was simply an existence of individuals in proximity; it had no basis of common interest.

“We had our parents—then we had you. The present generation is always the one without the comfort of people to lean on.”

“Children are always company,” said David. “People are like almanacs, Bonnie—you never can find the information you’re looking for, but the casual reading is well worth the trouble.”

“I thought you could tell me if our bodies are given to us as counterirritants to the soul. I thought you’d know why when our bodies ought to bring surcease from our tortured minds, they fail and collapse; and why, when we are tormented in our bodies, does our soul desert us as a refuge?”

“We are certainly accountable,” she said, “for all the things manifest in others that we secretly share. My father has bequeathed me many doubts.”

They sat in the pleasant gloom of late afternoon, staring at each other through the remains of the party; the silver glasses, the silver tray, the traces of many perfumes; they sat together watching the twilight flow through the calm living room that they were leaving like the clear cold current of a trout stream.


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"Tender Is The Night"

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

TO GERALD and SARA MANY FÊTES

Her shoulders were too burned to swim with the next day, so she and her mo the r hired a car—after much haggling, for Rosemary had formed her valuations of money in France—and drove along the Riviera, the delta of many rivers. The chauffeur, a Russian Czar of the period of Ivan the Terrible, was a self-appointed guide, and the resplendent names—Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo—began to glow through their torpid camouflage, whispering of old kings come here to dine or die, of rajahs tossing Buddha’s eyes to English ballerinas, of Russian princes turning the weeks into Baltic twilights in the lost caviare days.

“New friends,” he said, as if it were an important point, “can often have a better time together than old friends.”

Maybe we’ll have more fun this summer but this particular fun is over. I want it to die violently instead of fading out sentimentally— that’s why I gave this party.

“But you can love more than just one person, can’t you? Like I love Mother and I love you—more. I love you more now.”

“Most people think everybody feels about them much more violently than they actually do— they think other people’s opinions of them swing through great arcs of approval or disapproval.”

It was often easier to give a show than to watch one.

Most of us have a favorite, a heroic period, in our lives and that was Dick Diver’s.

Dick walked beside her, feeling her unhappiness, and wanting to drink the rain that touched her cheek.

She was a carnival to watch—at times primly coy, posing, grimacing and gesturing— sometimes the shadow fell and the dignity of old suffering flowed down into her finger tips.

“My God,” he gasped, “you’re fun to kiss.”

[a] ride in a train can be a terrible, heavy-hearted or comic thing; it can be a trial flight; it can be a prefiguration of another journey just as a given day with a friend can be long, from the taste of hurry in the morning up to the realization of both being hungry and taking food together.

You used to say a man knows things and when he stops knowing things he’s like anybody else, and the thing is to get power before he stops knowing things.


“Dick has me,” laughed Nicole. “I should think that’d be enough mental disorder for one man.” “That’s different,” said Franz cautiously.

“It’s always a delusion when I see what you don’t want me to see.”

A part of Dick’s mind was made up of the tawdry souvenirs of his boyhood. Yet in that somewhat littered Five-and-Ten, he had managed to keep alive the low painful fire of intelligence.

She stood upon his shoes nestling close and held up her face, showing it as a book open at a page.

These dead, he knew them all, their weather-beaten faces with blue flashing eyes, the spare violent bodies, the souls made of new earth in the forest-heavy darkness of the seventeenth century. “Good-by, my father—good-by, all my fathers.”

He guessed that she had had lovers and had loved them in the last four years. Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives.

Eighteen might look at thirty-four through a rising mist of adolescence; but twenty-two would see thirty-eight with discerning clarity.

She kissed him and he pulled her down so that they lay side by side, and then t h e y kissed till they were both breathless. Her breathing was young and eager and exciting. Her lips were faintly chapped but soft in the corners. When they were still limbs and feet and clothes, struggles of his arms and back, and her throat and breasts, she whispered, “No, not now—those things are rhythmic.” Disciplined he crushed his passion into a corner of his mind, but bearing up her fragility on his arms until she was poised half a foot above him, he said lightly: “Darling—that doesn’t matter.” Her face had changed with his looking up at it; there was the eternal moonlight in it.

“Tell me about everything,” she demanded. Dick gave her a version of the facts, and Baby frowned. She found it necessary to blame some one for the catastrophe in her sister’s life.

“It’s possible that I was the wrong person for Nicole,” Dick said. “Still she would probably have married some one of my type, some one she thought she could rely on— indefinitely.”

In Paris it was different. But you never know how you once felt. Do you?”

[H]e was scarcely conscious of places except for their weather, until they had been invested with color by tangible events. Rome was the end of his dream of Rosemary.

I like France, where everybody thinks he’s Napoleon—down here everybody thinks he’s Christ.”

There was dirty water in the gutters and between the rough cobblestones; a marshy vapor from the Campagna, a sweat of exhausted cultures tainted the morning air.

“I think Nicole is less sick than any one thinks—she only cherishes her illness as an instrument of power. She ought to be in the cinema, like your Norma Talmadge—that’s where all American women would be happy.”

He was not young any more with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have about himself, so he wanted to remember them well.

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"Last Tycoon

The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

You can take Hollywood for granted like I did, or you can dismiss it with the contempt we reserve for what we don’t understand.

I suppose there has been nothing like the airports since the days of the stage-stops—nothing quite as lonely, as sombre-silent. The old red-brick depots were built right into the towns they marked—people didn’t get off at those isolated stations unless they lived there. But airports lead you way back in history like oases, like the stops on the great trade routes. The sight of air travellers strolling in ones and twos into midnight airports will draw a small crowd any night up to two. The young people look at the planes, the older ones look at the passengers with a watchful incredulity.

“It’s not a slam at you when people are rude—it’s a slam at the people they’ve met before.”

At both ends of life man needed nourishment—a breast—a shrine. Something to lay himself beside when no one wanted him further, and shoot a bullet into his head.

His dark eyes took me in, and I wondered what they would look like if he fell in love.

What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.

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