The Stranger: F. Scott Fitzgerald Lives On in Stewart O’Nan’s Complex, Rewarding Novel West of Sunset



Stewart O’Nan’s greatest gift as a writer is his ability to work in miniature. His greatest novel, Last Night at the Lobster, is nothing more than the story of the final day of a failed Red Lobster restaurant. With absolutely no gimmicks or sentimentality, O’Nan gave the staff and operations of a backwater chain restaurant outpost the same care and attention that, say, Jonathan Franzen bestows upon terrible suburban American families, and the results are riveting. His novel The Odds, about a married couple trying to give their dying marriage one more shot by taking a Valentine’s Day trip to Niagara Falls, is similarly small in scope, a quiet story about an ordinary couple.

His newest novel, West of Sunset (Viking, $27.95), represents a departure from that formula. It’s a novel about the last days of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is about as far away from an average restaurant manager as you can get. Setting aside the fact that writing a novel about the author of TheGreat Gatsby is pretty gutsy, O’Nan also writes about Hollywood in the late ’30s, when legendary figures like Humphrey Bogart and Dorothy Parker were holding court in bars around the city.


Stewart will be at Warwick’s tonight!

San Diego, CA
Warwick’s, 1/29/2015 7:30pm

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