Five notable 2015 books by Pittsburgh-based writers
West of Sunset (Viking Penguin), by Stewart O’Nan. The veteran novelist (Last Night at the Lobster) drew raves coast to coast for this novel about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final, scuffling years, with its wonderfully imagined recreation of late-1930s Hollywood. West of Sunset offers an indelible portrait of a man, a time and a place: clear-eyed but still alive to the possibilities of romance and dreaming.
Two more Best of 2015 lists for West of Sunset!
“West of Sunset,” by Stewart O’Nan (Viking). This novel follows F. Scott Fitzgerald during his years as a struggling screenwriter. Its Golden Age Hollywood feels lived-in and real and makes for a welcoming read.
“West of Sunset” by Stewart O’Nan (Viking): Our appetite for all things Scott Fitzgerald doesn’t abate, and this novel offers a fresh look at the last three years of the St. Paul-born writer’s life, which O’Nan says are often overlooked by biographers. Fitz- gerald was living in Hollywood and in love with columnist Sheilah Graham, but he still visited his wife, Zelda, who was in a mental institution. He was sober and working on his novel “The Last Tycoon,” unfinished when he died in 1940.
Here’s the full text:
Lists of best books tend to lean toward the ones that set out to be masterpieces, works of staggering ambition or untold history or great stylistic risk. That’s understandable, but there’s something to be said for the simple pleasure of a good story told well, and by that score, Stewart O’Nan’s West Of Sunset is one of the most purely enjoyable novels of the year. The book is a candid but forgiving look at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s lost years in Hollywood, where one of America’s best writers found himself sinking in a quicksand of booze and glamour, his triumphs far behind him. Those who ache for the Art Deco era will find it irresistible, but even Gatsby virgins will find it as captivating as a bottle of champagne, with O’Nan providing the fizz and Fitzgerald the hangover. [Ryan Vlastelica]
West of Sunset was chosen as one of the Notable Fiction Books of 2015 by the Washington Post! Here’s what they said about it:
O’Nan compassionately and beautifully evokes the grim last act of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life, when he worked as a Hollywood screenwriter. Sick with alcoholism and tuberculosis, he labored to make flimsy scripts better, a tired but relentless craftsman. — Maureen Corrigan