Was Cincinnati’s “King of the Bootleggers” the model for Jay Gatsby?
Speaking of F. Scott Fitzgerald and drinking, the resort where he attempted to dry out is open to visitors.
J.D. Salinger turns 90 this week.
There are still a couple of days left in National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give It to Somebody Not Black Month.
David Robson makes a nice case for Revolutionary Road, but the essay mainly served to remind me of the fine piece that J.R. Jones wrote for the Chicago Reader in 2003 about his relationship with Richard Yates in his later years. Jones’ piece is a lengthy, nicely turned study of what made Yates such an appealing personality, in spite of his much-documented prickliness and compulsions:
Yates went on living…staying in Tuscaloosa after his semester in the Strode House [as a writer-in-residence at the University of Alabama] was up–rent was cheap, and the writing department would pay him a small stipend to read student manuscripts. Whenever I talked to him about his situation he told me he had to make 66 and get on social security. He moved into a spartan two-room apartment near campus, on Alaca Place, and Dan Childress, a writing student who took care of Yates in innumerable ways, helped him buy a used car.
We students were glad to see him stay. He was precise and honest in his responses to our work, and he seemed to take us seriously as writers. He also understood one thing even some of our spouses didn’t–the time demands of the work, the need for long stretches of silence and solitude. “I think it probably is the hardest and loneliest profession in the world,” he told the Transatlantic Review in 1972, “this crazy, obsessive business of trying to be a good writer. None of us ever knows how much time he has left, or how well he’ll be able to use that time, or whether, even if he does use his time well, his work will ever withstand and survive the terrible, inexorable indifference of time itself.” Surely he envied us our time as much as we envied him his talent.