Friday, May 9, 2014

Sarah Churchwell

Sarah Churchwell's latest book is Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby.

From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: You do a remarkable job of explaining how F. Scott Fitzgerald brilliantly exposed the deadly hollowness of the lifestyle he lived – yet was swept along almost helplessly. What do you make of the way he viewed the world that he embraced yet seemed to despise?

A: His ambivalence mirrors our own, it seems to me. "Gatsby" is a novel about a bust written from within a boom, and its ambivalence about materialism and aspiration certainly speaks to our society. We know that hankering for luxury and the good life is empty and toxic, and yet it doesn’t stop us from wanting it.

He had a fierce appetite for the gorgeous, an artist’s sensibility that meant he wanted everything to be beautiful, luxurious, sensual. Yet he was also a moralist, with a strong sense of right and wrong. He was in some ways far more straitlaced than people realize today.

So he was torn, as was Zelda. They loved the high life, and didn’t want to admit what it was costing them emotionally, psychically, physically. I don’t think that’s so hard to understand or to sympathize with.

Q: We know that both Fitzgeralds had amazing perceptive powers about their era. Looking back, what do you think they missed or purposefully ignored?

A: No one in their era sufficiently understood the perils of addiction: They didn’t realize...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue