|The magazine in question.|
In any event, the most recent issue found its way to my mailbox, with a lovely cover by Tomer Hanuka I found nice, but that my friend Stan! asked to have after I was done with the magazine, and my Lovely Bride declared "That would be worth the subscription". The magazine contains a "lost work" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Written for Harper's Bazaar but never published, The I.O.U. is a short piece about, well, let's leave the summary for the review section. In any event, there is a book of unpublished stories from Fitzgerald coming out in a single volume, which includes this one, and so the promotional nature of publishing lays it at our doorstep. Which is amusing, since the story is about publishing.
Review: This is a humorous story about publishing, ts characters larger than life, its resolution as straightforward as a punchline. Our narrator is a publisher who has unleashed his most recent bestseller - a book of spiritualism in which a noted psychologist and psychic researcher communicates with the spirit of his nephew who died in the Great War. The publisher goes into great detail about the process of preparing the book for launch, and upon a successful release, sets out by train, a case of books under his arm, to meet with the author in Ohio. And on the train he meets someone who will completely blow the gaff and doom his publication. To say more is to reveal too much. Our publisher is set up for the fall from the onset, and we get to see him scrambling faster and faster to keep all the balls in the air.
|Illustration from the story.|
Heck, just go read the thing.
This could be Wodehouse with only a few more malaproped allusions. Bertie could be saddled with this mess with some ally in the Drone's club in the publisher's role, Jeeves directing the final shatterer of their plans in the proper direction. Psmith could serve equally well with just a bit more trimmings. The female lead, Thalia (Goddess (well, Muse) of Comedy - shall F. Scott put a lampshade on all this for us?) is one of those drippy dedicated young maidens that populate Wodehouse's work. Happenstance weighs heavy in the plotting and the resolution.
Fitzgerald can be a funny writer, and Gatsby itself is filled with comic bits that get glanced over in the seriousness of being a "great novel". The Owl that Nick encounters in the library is one such moment, as is the comparison of the names of East Egg and West Egg cognoscenti. Yet we breeze past these, and I wonder if we think of Gatsby as a comic novel with a bleak ending, it holds together better. I'm sure there is some doctoral dissertation out there on "Uses of Humor is F. Scott Fitzgerald's Canon", and if there isn', there should be. Perhaps Fitzgerald, like God, is ultimately a comedian playing before an audience that is afraid to laugh.