Chicago Tribune: How F. Scott Fitzgerald went from washed up to winner again

In the Chicago Tribune:

Hollywood doesn’t have a benevolent reputation when it comes to nurturing novelists, but F. Scott Fitzgerald, it seems, had little grounds for complaint.

In fact, the down-on-his-luck writer used the opportunity to work as a highly paid day laborer on screenplays including “Gone with the Wind” to rejuvenate himself personally and professionally before his sudden death at the age of 44. Those rewarding final years in Hollywood are the subject of Stewart O’Nan’s 14th novel “West of Sunset” and appearance March 21 at novelist Elizabeth Berg’s Writing Matters event at the Hemingway Museum in Oak Park.

We caught up with O’Nan for a few quick questions about Fitzgerald, “West of Sunset” and his admiration for people who react to dire circumstances with resilience and endurance.

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And a reminder:

Author Stewart O’Nan discusses his novel ‘West of Sunset’

7 p.m. March 21

Hemingway Museum, 200 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park

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Patricia Sheridan’s Breakfast With … Stewart O’Nan

An Evening With Stewart O’Nan” will be held March 24 at 7 p.m. in the Mellon Middle School as part of Mt. Lebanon Public Library’s Joseph Wertheim Memorial Author Lecture Series. It’s free. No registration necessary.

Do you read the reviews or your books — good or bad?

I’ll read them to see if they say something interesting and tell me something more about the book that I might not know. Sometimes people are pretty insightful, especially in this case for this book. I am being reviewed sometimes by people that know more about Fitzgerald than I know, which is great. I think for the Huffpo [Huffington Post] and also for the Fitzgerald Society there was a woman who is writing a nonfiction book about, I think, Scott’s time in Hollywood.

Have you found yourself embraced by the Fitzgerald fans?

Yeah, yeah very much so. I think because they are interested just the way I’m interested. I think they are fascinated. They want to get closer. I think that is always the feeling you have with someone you admire, whether that is a good instinct or a bad instinct, especially for celebrity. 

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West of Sunset – The Christian Science Monitor Interview

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Q: What attracted you to the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Los Angeles?

We’ll always be fascinated with Scott and Zelda’s fall from grace from the pinnacle of celebrity and fame. That attracts a lot of writers and readers. But I want to talk about that later story when he gets up off that mat and becomes himself again. I want Scott’s point of view, and you can only do that though fiction.

Q: What is happening to Fitzgerald when the book begins?

It’s 1937. His wife Zelda is in a private asylum in North Carolina, and he realizes that she is not getting better. His daughter is in Connecticut, and he’s deeply in debt to his agent. He has no other prospects, and he has no choice but to try screenwriting for the third time.

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Stewart on Rick Kleffel’s The Agony Column; Asheville and Savannah This Week

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Read the review and listen to the podcasts of West of Sunset on Rick Kleffel’s The Agony Column!


Stewart is on the last leg of his tour — Asheville and Savannah this week:

Asheville, NC
ABA Winter Institute
The Man in Room 441: A Conversation About F. Scott Fitzgerald, With Maureen Corrigan, Stewart O’Nan, and Erik Larson
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 – 10:20am to 11:45am

Asheville has a rich literary history.  Included among the authors with ties to the city  is one of the 20th century’s greatest novelists, F. Scott Fitzgerald.  (His wife, Zelda was treated at Asheville’s Highland Hospital, a psychiatric facility.) Maureen Corrigan, author of So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures (Little, Brown) and Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset (Viking, published January 2015), a novel of Fitzgerald’s last years in Hollywood, will share their insights and observations about the writer, his works, and his times. The conversation will be moderated by bestselling author Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Crown, to be published in March 2015).
Room:
Heritage BR – A, B

Savannah, GA
Savannah Book Festival, 2/14/2015 4:10-5:10PM
http://www.savannahbookfestival.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/final-schedule-2015.pdf