Saturday, October 23, 2010

Library Loot: Not Quite Scott-Free

I dropped in to my library for just a moment to return The Red Badge of Courage, but of course I couldn't leave empty-handed. Cruising the shelves, I found The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty-Five Years Later by Sheilah Graham. Graham was an English-born Hollywood gossip columnist who is also extremely well-known for being F. Scott Fitzgerald's girlfriend.

Although they were only together for three years, until Fitzgerald's death in 1940, it seems as if Graham never got over him. In the 1950s, she co-authored a book with Gerold Frank called Beloved Infidel about her years with Fitzgerald. A few years later in College of One, she wrote about how Fitzgerald tried to help her plug the gaps in her limited education (which she was sensitive about) by fashioning a two-year curriculum for her.

In the early 1970s Nancy Milford's landmark biography of Zelda Fitzgerald was published as well as a book by journalist Aaron Latham called Crazy Sundays, which was about Fitzgerald's final years in Hollywood. Graham perceived enough inaccuracies about Scott and herself to be galvanized into writing another memoir in 1976.


Apparently, during the writing of Beloved Infidel, Graham had to hold back some of the juicier tidbits because of the morals and mores of the times. She also felt as if she still had a hazy romantic vision of Fitzgerald then, and that while writing The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty-Five Years Later (Isn't that title a clunker? Beloved Infidel is miles better!), she could see him much more clearly from the vantage point of an older woman.

Graham never wrote any more books about her relationship with Fitzgerald. She died sometime in the late 1980s. A few years later, her son, novelist Robert Westbrook, who was born several years after Fitzgerald died, wrote an even juicer tell-all biography about Fitzgerald and Graham called Intimate Lies: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham Her Son's Story. Sounds kind of icky, and apparently he inherited the clunky title gene from Mum.

I feel like reading gossip, but not just any gossip. Literary gossip is what I want. I hope it's not *too* juicy. I'm still getting over that one part in A Moveable Feast where Hemingway and Fitzgerald are discussing the latter's uh, dimensions.


Unknown said...

Oh I must pick this one up, I was not familiar with it.

Bybee said...

Glad to help you since you're a Fitzgerald fan!

Mollie said...

Enjoy your literary gossip! ;)