Frances Kroll Ring dies at 99; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final secretary

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I was lucky enough to meet Frances this past January and thank her for her memoir, Against the Current, which helped me a great deal.  At 98 she was still pithy, and loved telling stories about how working with Fitzgerald was an education.

– Stewart O’Nan

Frances Kroll Ring, one of the last living links to novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, died Thursday, her family said. She was 99 and died at home in Benedict Canyon after a short illness.

Ring began working as Fitzgerald’s secretary and typist in 1939, when he was sending out short stories, working occasionally for Hollywood studios and writing the manuscript “The Love of the Last Tycoon.”

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Photos from St. Paul, Minnesota

Stewart was in St. Paul, Minnesota yesterday, the birthplace of F. Scott Fitzgerald. A few pictures from his visit follow.  Photos courtesy Tim Hedges of Around the Town Agency.

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Stewart O’Nan chats about F. Scott Fitzgerald and ‘West of Sunset’

latimesjcFrom the L.A. Times:

Stewart O’Nan chats about F. Scott Fitzgerald and ‘West of Sunset’

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legacy has become synonymous with the glamour of the Jazz Age and the success of “The Great Gatsby.” His complicated life with wife Zelda has become the stuff of myth, portrayed in numerous biographies and novels.

However, during the last three years of his life, Fitzgerald was a troubled man in poor health, his wife consigned to a mental asylum and his finances in ruin. It was also during this period in time that Fitzgerald strove to make a new start as a Hollywood screenwriter.

Stewart O’Nan’s novel “West of Sunset” (Viking, 304 pp., $27.95) offers a glimpse into this time in Fitzgerald’s life as he arrives on the MGM lot, falls in love with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, struggles with his addiction to alcohol, works on “The Last Tycoon” — all while trying to maintain a semblance of family normalcy with Zelda and their daughter, Scottie.

O’Nan chatted about the book by phone from his Pittsburgh home. He will be discussing his book at Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood on Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m. and at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.

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Casting F. Scott Fitzgerald in Stewart O’Nan’s West of Sunset

Arguably the greatest American writer of the twentieth century – perhaps in history – F. Scott Fitzgerald was as complex, compelling, and ultimately tragic as any character in his legendary body of work. Stewart O’Nan’s latest novel, West of Sunset, is a nuanced, witty, and moving chronicle of the troubled author’s final years living amid the decadence of Hollywood during the golden age of cinema.

In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald was well beyond his years of greatest success. In financial and emotional freefall, the alcoholic Fitzgerald made his way to Hollywood to fulfill a screenwriting contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Despite his sometimes crippling doubts about the state of his creative abilities and the ongoing turmoil in his relationship with his wife, Zelda, Fitzgerald remained of captivating charm even if it was little more than a facade. Given the timeless nature of Fitzgerald’s body of work, the stranger-than-fiction nature of his final years, and his literary stature, West of Sunset is a semi-fictionalized biography ripe for adaptation. Let’s take a look at some possible casting choices, shall we?

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TribLive and The Week

Two links of interest in TribLive and The Week:

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Fitzgerald fascination: Stewart O’Nan book, new biographies, film projects focus on F. Scott

O’Nan says “every journalist wanted to take me to a Red Lobster” when that novel was published in 2007, so his wife suggested he seek out more glamorous material.

“What do I know from glamour? I’m from Pittsburgh,” he says. “But American glamour is Fitzgerald on the Riviera. American glamour is Greta Garbo. So what if I look at one of the most romantic places in American history (Hollywood in the late 1930s) through the eyes of our greatest romantic. If I can’t make that glamorous, I’m not trying.”

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The novelist recommends works by Joanna Scott, Robert Coover, and more