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An Introduction toWest of Sunsetby Stewart O’NanAs a young man, F. Scott Fitzgerald believed that there were no second acts in American lives. By the age offorty, he was trying with all his might to prove that he was wrong.When we meet him at the start of Stewart O’Nan’s scintillating new biographical novel West of Sunset,Fitzgerald is no longer the irresistible, golden icon of the Jazz Age, nor is his wife Zelda the daring, glamorous,baby-faced rebel of her youth. Zelda, now nearing thirty-seven, has been committed to a mental hospital—still lucid and winning at times but liable to sink into delusion or erupt into unreasoning violence at anymoment. As for Scott, the soaring triumphs of The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night are behind him. Aman preoccupied with truth, he ironically spirals ever deeper into falsehood. His greatest wishes now areto pay for Zelda’s care, to see his precociously talented daughter Scottie through college, and to somehowrecapture some of his own tattered literary glory.That glory, if he is to find it anywhere, lies neither on the verdant lawns of Princeton nor among thefabled pleasure palaces of Long Island. It lies instead in Hollywood, where Scott travels in hopes of buildinga new life as a screenwriter. Awaiting him there is an extraordinary host of old friends, including a muscular,pre-Casablanca Humphrey Bogart and a savagely witty post-Algonquin Dorothy Parker. Scott’s foremostliterary rival, Ernest Hemingway, is not far off. But also waiting for Fitzgerald are some formidable problems.Fickle studio executives throw him on and off projects in revolving-door fashion. The frenetic party cultureof 1930s L.A. threatens to erode whatever discipline he can muster. But the worst of his problems hehas brought with him: an all too well-known weakness for cocktails and pills, as well as all the hauntingmemories of a glamorous but guilty past.Some men, when drowning, clutch at straws. Others reach for a star. That star, for Scott, is SheilahGraham, an English-born gossip columnist who might have passed for Zelda’s twin. Infatuated, Scottpursues her, thinking little of where the attraction might lead. What begins as an amorous dalliancegradually transforms into something much deeper and more elemental, and Graham begins to look like theone person who can save Scott both from the world and from himself. Yet Sheilah is harboring corrosivesecrets of her own.A marvel of research and a minor miracle of imagination, West of Sunset brilliantly calls to life both theseduction and the soullessness of late 1930s Hollywood while it also brings the reader inside the mind of F.Scott Fitzgerald. With deft precision, Stewart O’Nan evokes a great, flawed man in all of his complexity: hiswit, his courage, and his besetting weaknesses. In its beautifully elegiac descriptions and its crisp, cracklingdialogue, West of Sunset recalls a shimmering moment in time—and makes it timeless.About Stewart O’NanStewart O’Nan grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Boston University, he began hisprofessional life as a test engineer for Grumman Aerospace before leaving the corporate world to earn anMFA at Cornell. In 1996, Granta named him one of America’s Best Young Novelists. His novels, includingThe Odds; Emily, Alone; and Last Night at the Lobster, have won wide critical acclaim. Mr. O’Nan lives inPittsburgh with his family.
Stewart O’Nan’s “library” while writing the bookWorks by or about Fitzgerald, including, but not limited to: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon, The Crack-Up, The Pat Hobby Stories, St. Paul Stories ofF. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as the individual Fitzgerald stories: Winter Dreams, Crazy Sunday, andBabylon Revisited, The Rich Girl, his Basil and Josephine Stories and his personal ledger, plus all of hiscorrespondence and papers F. Scott Fitzgerald’s screenplay Three Comrades, edited by Mathew J. Bruccoli Zelda Fitzgerald’s novel Save Me the Waltz F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald’s Bits of Paradise D ear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald edited byCathy W. Barks L etters to His Daughter edited by Andrew Turnbull S cott Fitzgerald by Andrew Turnbull H emingway vs. Fitzgerald by Scott Donaldson F . Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography by Andre Le Vot D ear Scott/Dear Max: The Fitzgerald-Perkins Correspondence edited by John Kuehl andJackson Bryer T he Far Side of Paradise: A Biography by Arthur Mizener After the Good Gay Times: Asheville-Summer of ’35 by Anthony Buttitta Z elda: A Biography by Nancy Milford E xiles from Paradise: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by Sara Mayfield I nvented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald by James R. Mellow S ometimes Madness Is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: A Marriage by Kendall Taylor Frances Kroll Ring’s memoir Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald T hat Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald,and some others by Morley Callaghan All of Sheilah Graham’s memoirs of Hollywood, especially Beloved Infidel: The Education of a Womanand College of One: The Story of How F. Scott Fitzgerald Educated the Woman He Loved C razy Sundays by Aaron Latham S ome Time in the Sun: The Hollywood Years of F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner,Nathaniel West, Aldous Huxley and James Agee by Tom Dardis S ome Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Mathew J. Bruccoli The Perfect Hour: The Romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King
Other books written about or during Fitzgerald’s Hollywood Years,including but not limited to: Hope of Heaven by John O’Hara The Disenchanted and What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg Babylon Revisited: The Screenplay, edited by Budd Schulberg Day of the Locust by Nathanael West They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy All of Raymond Chandler’s works Johnt Fante’s LA Novels from the 1930s Dorothy Parker’s stories and biographies, including What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenneyby Marion Meade In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway The Slide Area by Gavin Lambert After Many Summers Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley The Diaries of Christopher Isherwood (Volume 1) Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles by Alain Silver Sprinkled with Ruby Dust by H.N. Swanson Bring on the Empty Horses by David NivenMiscellaneous Materials included: Old road maps; gossip columns from the 1930s; menus & recipes from restaurants of the era;postcards from Hollywood, Malibu and Santa Monica, dating from the 1930s; the Malibu Phonebook from the 1930s; MGM Newsreels from the 1930s; A Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Pauland The WPA Guide to California
Movie Guide In a Lonely Place, directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame Three Comrades, written by Fitzgerald, directed by Frank Borzage A Star Is Born (1937), written by Dorothy Parker Sunset Boulevard, directed by Billy Wilder The Big Sleep, written by William Faulkner, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall Farewell, My Lovely, based on the novel by Raymond Chandler R omeo and Juliet (1936) directed by George Cukor, starring Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard,and John Barrymore That’s Entertainment, written and directed by Jack Haley Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler Beloved Infidel, directed by Henry King, written by Sy Bartlett and Sheilah Graham The Postman Always Rings Twice, directed by Tay Garnett and starring Lana Turner The Petrified Forest, directed by Archie Mayo, starring Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis Casablanca, directed by Henry Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman Key Largo, directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall The Thin Man, the whole series Fast and Loose, the whole series Hollywood, The Dream Factory, documentary Last Call (Fitzgerald), directed by Henry Bromell and starring Jeremy Irons
Some of the notable people who appear inWest of SunsetZelda Sayre Fitzgerald: Wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald: Only child of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald.Maxwell Perkins: Was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s and Ernest Hemingway’s editor.Harold Ober: Was a literary agent who represented F. Scott Fitzgerald and other acclaimed authorssuch as Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, Pearl Buck, and J. D. Salinger.John O’Hara: Was an Irish American bestselling author of Appointment in Samarra andButterfield 8. His second wife Belle O’Hara makes an appearance in West of Sunset.Sidney Joseph “S. J.” Perelman: Was an American humorist, author, and screenwriter. In cinemahe is noted for co-writing scripts for the Marx Brothers films Monkey Business and Horse Feathersand for the Academy-Award-winning screenplay Around the World in Eighty Days.Dorothy Parker: Was an American poet, critic, and satirist known for her wit and wisecracks in20th-century urban foibles. She was married to actor and screenwriter Alan Campbell, a reputedbisexual. They were a popular screenwriting team in Hollywood until Campbell’s death in 1963.Ring Lardner: Was an America sports columnist and short story writer, most known for his satiricaltakes on sports, marriage, and theater.Ogden Nash: Was an America poet known for his comedic verse.Robert Benchley: Was an American humorist who wrote essays and columns for The New Yorkerand Vanity Fair, among others. He was a charter member of the Algonquin Round Table, a celebratedgroup of New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits who gathered at the Algonquin Hotel duringthe 1920s.Marlene Dietrich: Was a German-American actress and singer, who had a decades-long affair withErnest Hemmingway.Aldous Huxley: Was an English writer and philosopher best known for his novel Brave New World,which was set in a dystopian London.Sheilah Graham: An English-born nationally syndicated gossip columnist during Hollywood’sGolden Age. She had a romantic relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald for three and a half years.
Joan Crawford: Was a noted Oscar-winning American film and television actress.Irving Thalberg: Was an American film producer during the early years of motion pictures.Nicknamed “The Wonder Boy” for his youth and uncanny ability to choose the right scripts, Thalbergproduced Grand Hotel, China Seas, Camille, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Good Earth. He was theinspiration for Monroe Stahr, the protagonist in Fitzgerald’s unfinished and posthumously publishedThe Love of the Last Tycoon.Hunt Stromberg: Was a film producer during Hollywood’s Golden Age. He produced, wrote, anddirected some of Hollywood’s most profitable and enduring films, including The Thin Man series,The Women, and The Great Ziegfeld, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1936.David O. Selznick: Was an American film producer and studio executive, best known for producingGone with the Wind.Joseph Mankiewicz: Was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He won theAcademy Award twice for both Best Director and Best Screenplay for A Letter to Three Wives andAll About Eve.David Niven: Was an English actor and novelist best known for his role as Phileas Fogg in Aroundthe World in 80 Days and “The Phantom” in The Pink Panther. He was awarded the Academy Awardfor Best Actor in 1958 for his performance in Separate Tables.Budd Schulberg: The son of B. P. Schulberg, Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter,television producer, novelist, and sports writer, most known for the novel What Makes Sammy Run?and the 1954 Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront. In 1939, he collaboratedon the movie Winter Carnival with F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was fired because of an alcoholic bingeduring a visit with Schulberg to Dartmouth.Shirley Temple: Was an American film and television actress, most famous as a child star in the1930s. She is best known for the movie Bright Eyes.D.W. Griffith: Was an American film director, most known for his controversial films The Birth ofa Nation and Intolerance.
Some of the notable places featured inWest of SunsetCafé Trocadero: Also known as the Troc, Café Trocadero was an black tie French-inspirednightclub on the Sunset Strip where many Hollywood stars dined and danced.“ He called the Trocadero and changed their reservation. Instead of a quiet table in back,he asked for one with a view.”The Cocoanut Grove: Was a Hollywood nightclub located in the Ambassador Hotel in LosAngeles. It was the site of the 2nd and 12th Academy Awards and the assassination of Robert F.Kennedy. It was frequented by many stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Norma Shearerand Irving Thalberg, Charlie Chaplin, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, andMarlene Dietrich.“ Walking into the Cocoanut Grove with the orchestra trilling a swoony ballad was liketraveling back in time . . . Long ago they’d stayed at the Ambassador and danced there everynight. This had been during Prohibition, and after a few weeks they’d been asked to leave. Ithad been Zelda’s idea to take all the furniture in their room and make a big pile in the middle,crowning it with the unpaid bill.”The Brown Derby: Was the name of a chain of restaurants in Los Angeles. The first and mostfamous of these was shaped like a derby hat, becoming an iconic image synonymous with theGolden Age of Hollywood.“ Saturday was payday, and after driving over to the studio to turn in his pages, he andSheilah were having dinner at the Vine Street Derby when the maitre’d came to their boothwith a phone.”Musso & Frank’s: This iconic Los Angeles restaurant is still open today and has been called“the genesis of Hollywood.” It’s appeared and featured in the movies Ed Wood and Ocean’sEleven and the novel The Day of the Locust.Schwab’s Drugstore: Was a drug store on