The Disenchanted by Buss Schulberg

This was taken from my reading Blog 481 Laurel

Not that this blog is being written for anyone besides myself and my records, but sometimes I get back logged on getting my entries in.  The Disenchanted is one of those books causing a lull.  I knew that for me it was going to be a difficult review to write, so I thought I would just push ahead to the next book, but now 5 1/2 books later I figured I need to just write what I can and realize that it may not make any sense or be complete, and that is OK.

I was interested in this book because of the author, Budd Schulberg and the subject matter, a  young screen-writer who works along side his literary hero and is witness to his demise.

In real life, a young Budd Schulberg was hired by the studios to work out a script with F Scott Fitzgerald.  Schulberg had been a fan of FSF in college, but thought the author had died, but was thrilled to have the opportunity to work so closely with such a great writer.  They are asked to work on a script that takes place at a winter carnival on an East Coast campus, and are sent there to "capture the flavor".    During this point in his life Fitzgerald was with Sheila Graham and working on his sobriety, trying to put his life back together and move forward. This trip to Dartmouth would prove to be a disaster.

Knowing that the book was rooted in reality, I was fascinated as I read, and always looking for Fitzgerald in the character Halliday.  It was not to hard to find him, and the events of that infamous weekend.  I found much of it familiar and kept thinking there was a short storywritten on the event, but I was unable to find it.  I think most of the info I gathered  were from Bruccoli and Graham herself.

I do wonder if I would have found the book as good if the Fitzgerald connection was not there?  I found the pacing a tad slow.  But that could be because I knew where it was going.  If I did not, I think the pacing could have been OK and actually works for the story as it is a slow decline of a man and by taking such a methodical approach would make sense.  This story of the dissapation of a hero is a Fitzgerald theme and is another reason it interest me.

Would I recommend it as a read?  Yes, but it would not be a book I recommend to everyone, only people who have an interest in Fitzgerald or the Old Hollywood movie scene.  It is a shame, because it really is a moving story, but I am afraid many people are not satisfied with such a depressing ending to a book.


Unpubished Stories I was unable to find....

Here is a list of the stories I was unable to find and a brief blurb of what they were about

The IOU (1920) A satire on the Advertising industry
Recklessness (1922)
Nightmare (Fantasy in Black) (1932) Set in an institute for the insane
What to do About it (1933) About a Doctor
Daddy was perfect (1934) About a playwright
Travel Together (1935) About a scriptwriter
I'd Die For You (1935-36) About a Movie Star
The Pearl and The Fur (1936) A Gwen Bowers story
Cyclone in Silent Land (1936) Nurse named Trouble series
They Never Grow Old (1937) About a cartoonist
Offside Play (Athletic Interview) (1937) A football story
Temperature (The Woman on the House) (1939)
The Couple (?) A couple on the verge of divorce reunite
Salute to Lucie and Elsie (1939) A mans shock of hearing of his sons sexual exploits
The Gods of Darkness (1941) -Phillipe story, Historical fiction
Kingdom in the Dark (1935)-Phillipe story, Historical fictio
The Count of Darkness (1935)-Phillipe story, Historical fictio

If you know where I can get a copy let me know.  I would like to read these as well.

Done Done Done

It has taken me much longer than I had expected, but I have done it.  Here is the break down:

198 Short Stories
5 Novels
11 Biographies on Scott
2 Biographies on Zelda
4 Misc books or biographies of people surrounding Fitzgerald
3 Fitzgerald inspired novels
5 movies
1 play

Scott Fitzgerald Novels
This Side of Paradise 3/08* (Audio books as well)
The Beautiful & Damned 2/11
The Great Gatsby 11/10 & 7/12
Tender is the Night 4/09*
Love of the Last Tycoon 8/13
*I am positive I have read both This side of Paradise and Tender is the Night since I have started this blog but I can't find entries for them- Guess I will be reading them again soon

Biographies on Scott
Some Epic Grandeur  5/08 and off and on since then
Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship 7/11
Hemingway vs Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship 7/11
Against the Current  4/13
College of One 6/13
Invented Lives 7/13
Beloved Infidel 8/13
The Real F Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty Five Years Later 8/13
Fool For Love 2/14
The Thoughtbook of F Scott Fitzgerald 5/14
The Perfect Hour 12/10
Still have another Sheila Graham memoir (The Rest of the Story)

Biographies on Zelda
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald: An American Woman's Life 11/11
Sometimes Madness is Wisdom 3/14
I am also sure I have read the biography on Zelda by Nancy Milford, but again I do not hat it listed.  I am sure I read it at the same time I read Zelda...An American Woman's Life.  Nope I started it but did not finish it.  Guess what I will be reading this summer.

Everybody Was So Young (Gerald and Sara Murphy) 12/11
A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway) 1/12
The Real Midnight in Paris 9/13
Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald's St.Paul 9/11

The Great Gatsby (1974 version) 5/11
The Great Gatsby (Luhrman) 5/13
Beloved Infidel 8/13
Midnight in Paris 7/11
F Scott Fitzgerald The Great American Dreamer (A&E) 8/10

Fitzgerald inspired Fiction
Gatsby's Girl 11/11
Call Me Zelda 8/13
Beautiful Fools 8/13

Now I will move on to the next phase.  I hopefully will be able to identify the stories I would recommend.


The Last of the Belles- My final story

After Atlanta's elaborate and theatrical rendition of Southern charm, we all underestimated Tarleton.  It was a little hotter than anywhere we'd been....
Yes, this is another story that takes place in the mythical Georgia town of Tarleton that exists in Fitzgerald's mind.

As it is in this type of story the hero is a Northerner in the south for army training.  Fitzgerald has this story taking place right at the end of the war.  It is also a story where the hero never gets the girl.  In fact he really does not realize that he is in love with her until years later, when it is far too late.  Actually, in this story the girl never falls in love with the boy.  I have to wonder why he falls in love with her, except we know Fitzgerald has a weak spot for this type of selfish, manipulating woman.

One of the lines that stuck out to me was...
"Beneath her mask of an instinctive thoroughbred she had always been on to herself, and she couldn't beleive that anyone not taken to the point of uncritical worship could really love her.  That was what she called being "sincere"..."

As we all know I have trouble with his heroines, but I can appreciate that this was the type that made him weak in the knees. I am sure the type of man that is my Achilles heel also has some really unattractive traits. So I can move beyond it.  So I will move beyond and talk about something else.

Written on 1929, it is the end of his debutante stories. At least that was what he wanted.  To say, lets put a pin in it.  He wanted to move on to other types of stories.  And it is a good story to end them on.  It seems obvious that he would link this last deb story to the end of the war.  He has also linked that he did not "get over" to not getting the girl.

I have to confess, I also kept this story to be my last story, it seemed fitting to me to have this one end my journey as well.


Crazy Sunday (1932)

It was Sunday-not a day, but rather a gap between two other days.  

It always seemed strange to me that Fitzgerald was not a success in Hollywood as a screen writer. It seems like it should have been a natural fit, but the truth was he just did not cut it. Whether it was due to his lack of faith in the medium, or his personal demons (alcohol and women) he was put into an environment that he did not flourish.  However, being a person who soaks up his surroundings, he could not help but write stories of Hollywood.  Later he would die working on his Hollywood novel, one that could have been a masterpiece.

In Crazy Sunday, we see a bit of the Hollywood scene.  The parties and the small community that made up the Hollywood system.  There is also a bit of personal history that he includes, in the story as in life the protagonist embarrasses himself in front of the Hollywood elite.

This is not one of my favorites, but there is much that seems to be a prelude to The Love of the Last Tycoon. 

The Swimmers (1929)

In the Place Benoit, a suspended mass of gasoline exhaust cooked slowly by the June sun.  It was a terrible thing, for, unlike pure heat, it held no promise of rural escape, but suggested only roads choked with the same foul asthma.

This was a story published in October 1929, right before the the Big Crash.

 Although Fitzgerald was among the expats that lived in Europe in the time between the wars, it does not seem he took to France as others did.  He always seemed to keep a distance.  It was like he was always a tourist, and always American.  In this story he works out the American Ideals set against the Continental.  Henry is an American who has given up his country in order to marry the French Choupette.  In one of their conversations Choupette is talking about the differences in women in Europe and how they stay in their classes when she spies a young American and says....
"But that young lady may be a stenographer and yet be compelled to warp herself, dressing and acting as of she had all the money in the world."
"Perhaps she will have, someday." (Henry)
"That's the story they are told; it happens to one, not the ninety-nine.  That is hwy all their faces over thirty are discontented and unhappy."
Which is still a pretty accurate statement for today.  Even if we Americans know that the dream only happens to a select few, we hold that ideal and know that who the "few" are could be any of us, if we work hard enough and have enough luck on our side.  We are not content to just live with our lot in life.

Another line from the story simply states...
"American men are incomplete without money."
Still true.

Interestingly enough, after Choupette moves to America, she is wooed by the luxury and life that American money and ideals provide, and Henry goes back to Europe after he makes enough money.

It is interesting when Fitzgerald writes about life in Europe.  I always get the feeling that he is hoping to find something there.  He is not in love with the Culture, or the people.  When he did travel there he kept to other Americans, but he held out hope that they will be happy and he will be able to write and they could live cheaply.  But in life it is not where you are, it is who you are and the change of scenery does not change the problems, you just take them with you and "they" live in surrounded by new scenery.  It is a thread that runs through his work.  Whether it be love stories, "class" stories or location stories.  You are where you are, you are who you are and your struggles are internal and will always be your struggles, no matter the situation.  Place, money or love does not ease the strain. 


Majesty (1929)

The Extraordinary thing is not that people in a lifetime turn out worse or better than we had prophesied; particularly in America that is to be expected.

Majesty is a princess fairy tale done Fitzgerald style or in this case the girl skips the princess phase and goes straight to Queen.  Of course in any Fitzgerald story there is a hint of tragedy.  Even though Emily has her wish of living the life as she believes is her due, she has to live in on a compromise.

What I did appreciate in this story was not so much the Emily character, which is the prototypical Fitzgerald girl, but her cousin Olive, who is more serious and down to earth.  Typically Fitzgerald does not put this girl in the favorable light, but here she gets the happy and fulfilling life.  The characters remind me a bit of Scarlett O'Hara and Melanie.

Related Posts with Thumbnails