With summer movie season right around the corner, I have to say that many of the selections look a little underwhelming (I sure hope I'm wrong, though!). But one I'm really looking forward to is the upcoming Baz Luhrmann production of The Great Gatsby.
I mean anything has to be better than the version Will and I watched with Robert Redford and Mira Sorvino, right? Talk about a snooze-fest.
Love him or hate him, you gotta hand it to Baz. His work is never boring even if the story is (Australia, anyone?), and I'm expecting to like his Gatsby very, very much. Even the soundtrack sounds like a winner.
So as I patiently await a screening, I've come across a few new books that focus on F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda. Aside from her much-ballyhooed bout with mental illness and the fact that F. Scott's pal Ernest Hemingway wasn't exactly her biggest fan, something he mentioned a few times in A Moveable Feast, I didn't really know much about Zelda.
Much like Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, a stunning novel about Hemingway's first wife Hadley, Therese Anne Fowler's Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a fascinating, first-person account of the fairer Fitzgerald that's fiction but based on all sorts of research. A true talent in her own right (Zelda was a skilled dancer, painter, and yes, even a writer), I got a front row seat for all the highs and lows of her life before—and after—becoming the famed Mrs. Fitzgerald.
And let's just say while all the places they traveled and lived together sound nothing short of spectacular, being married to F. Scott didn't sound like much of a picnic, especially once he started hanging with Hemingway. Let's just say copious amounts of alcohol often played a starring role.
When it was all said and done, the book took me a month to get through (short windows of time aren't always great for reading), but Z was a welcome companion on my recent trips. A portrait of a complicated woman in a complicated age where women weren't praised for being anything more than a loyal wife and mother, it's no wonder a free spirit like Zelda struggled. But for better and much, much worse, she and Scott stuck it out until he died of a heart attack in 1940.
While I wouldn't exactly call it the most uplifting of reading experiences (truth be told, most of it will break your heart), it was still an intriguing snapshot of these literary superstars. It's still hard to believe that Gatsby wasn't much of a success when it first released, something that bummed poor Scott out to no end. I wonder what he'd think about it being required reading for most high school students now? Or of Leonardo DiCaprio playing the titular character on the big screen?
Anyway, if you have any interest in the Fitzgeralds, Z is definitely worth reading—even if you have to commit an entire month to do so.