Our faith in possibility may be glorious, but it’s easy to forget that one possibility is always failure. –Sarah Churchwell
Turning the last page of this book leaves the reader, like any other Scott Fitzgerald biography, with a feeling of sadness. Sarah Churchwell, an American professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of East Anglia, Uk, accomplishes the task of taking her reader into the Scott’s “Jazz Age” and blending the chaotic scenes with chaotic characters, developing the careless people who fuel the life of The Great Gatsby.
When reading of the 1920’s, it can be, at times, hard to comprehend the newness of the everything. America was coming out of the Gilded Age and entering an age of flagrant disobedience to the norm. Corruption, bribery, and blatant disregard to a moral structure that built a granite foundation of a country, at the time, that was not more than 150 years old. The Fitzgeralds fed and were fed by the society that, according to Churchwell, Scott predicted all along. F. Scott Fitzgerald had an uncanny way of guessing right. His thoughts, displayed in journal entries and letter written to friends and enemies, allow for a very in-depth look at a tragic and gifted writer.
Careless People deepens the idea of how Scott Fitzgerald used the social media of his time to spring board his creative mind and develop characters and situations that were suitable to quench the thirst for gossip, while at the same time revealing the America’s progressively speedy journey into greed and waste. When finished with the book, my third about Scott, I find it so disheartening for a man to have such a beautiful talent and never truly know how impactful he would was or would be. When people such as T.S. Elliott and John Steinbeck and Earnest Hemingway see the brilliance in Scott’s writing, it is hard for me to comprehend why newspaper critics set the tone for years and years of quiet desperation for Scott. It is quite obvious that he is not completely a victim, drinking and spending his way into oblivion, but the talent that was entrusted to him was incredible. It was a tragic life for two people . . . actually three, Scott and Zelda and Scottie; however, in retrospect, the pain and sadness was probably a huge contributor to Scott’s wonderful words.
It is no mystery that great writers are great readers and pull from various resources for inspiration. Scott was no different. Careless People is a great read and should be on every writer’s reading list.