Tender Is the Writer

F Scott Fitzgerald is the most irresistible of modern American writers, and readers return to his pages time and again. When Paradise Lost landed on my desk for review, I had just, over the past year, read through Fitzgerald’s major novels and stories, work I’ve known and admired for half a century. But classic literature is, in Pound’s great phrase, ‘news that stays news’, and I continue to read Fitzgerald as compulsively as I read the daily headlines. The problem with Fitzgerald has never been the work; it’s been the writing about him. The standard biography for some time has been Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, a 1981 study by Matthew J Bruccoli. It’s a reliable and boring compilation of facts, not as well written as the first major assessment of the life and work, The Far Side of Paradise by Arthur Mizener (1951)