Monday, February 2, 2015

West of Sunset

In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald, sets out for Hollywood. He needs to
jumpstart his career, earn money to pay off exorbitant debt he has accumulated and support his ailing wife and their daughter who is away at a costly boarding school. There is no place better to accomplish all these tasks than at the studios. With a few old connections Scott manages to find work writing scripts for a very good price and although the scripts are often changed until his work is unrecognizable, it pays the bills. He is surrounded by a magnificent cast including Bogart, Dorothy Parker and Shirley Temple. The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind are in the works. It is a magical time in Hollywood. Although Scott has set his sights on the future and sincerely wants to make amends, his demons have followed him across this vast country and his drinking, philandering and general bad decision making are no different in California than they were anywhere else he and Zelda had previously landed as they roamed the world. Sadly, Zelda is in a hospital/sanitarium. Scott believes the beautiful brilliant wife he has long adored is still in there somewhere and he lives in denial that things will ever be the same again. These are his last years, his magnificent talent is not appreciated in this town and his love affair with famed gossip columnist Sheilah Graham is the last he will have. Sheilah is by far the rock he never had and truly needed. But it is too late. His drinking and pill popping have destroyed his health and for all his good intentions, his need for fame and recognition are difficult to sustain. Scott's last years are depressing and although Stewart O' Nan is one of my all time favorite writers, I found the scandalous lives of the Fitzgerald's in "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald," by Therese Anne Fowler, much more enjoyable.

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