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"Corn liquor by moonlight in a deserted aviation field in Alabama."
July 31, 2012 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Last week, the New Yorker published a (previously rejected) F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, "Thank You for the Light", written in 1936. The magazine has also made available "A Short Autobiography," in which Fitzgerald gave a chronology of his life in terms of alcoholic beverages imbibed.

Mentioned inTNY's blog post, playwright John Chapin Mosher wrote a two-page profile of Fitzgerald, published in the magazine a year afterThe Great Gatsby. The text can be found here.
- - -

A SHORT AUTOBIOGRAPHY, WITH ACKNOWLEDGMENTS TO NATHAN

1918
The Bourbon smuggled to officers' rooms by bellboys at the Seelbach in Louisville.

1919
The Sazzarac Cocktails brought up from New Orleans to Montgomery to celebrate an important occasion.

1920
Red wine at Mollat's. Absinthe cocktails in a hermetically sealed apartment in the Royalton. Corn liquor by moonlight in a deserted aviation field in Alabama.

1923
Oceans of Canadian ale with R. Lardner in Great Neck; Long Island.

1929
A feeling that all liquor has been drunk and all it can do for one has been experienced, and yet
--"Garçon, un Chablis-Mouton 1902, et pour commencer, une petite carafe de vin rose. C'est ça--merci."
posted by obscurator (16 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess that's charming, but he was an alcoholic and drank himself into mental illness, alienation and then death.
posted by Catchfire at 12:34 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Zelda was the mentally fragile one, not Scott, though I guess they were both alienated and both were drunks.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2012


When I was a kid in Alabama there was an old man that used to tell stories about the days when he partied with Scott and Zelda. After one party he and his brother were driving back home from Montgomery in a haze as the sun came up. Some force told him to stop the car. He did and just as he did an elephant burst out of the hedge beside the road, crossed and disappeared off on the other side. He started driving again and he and his brother rode home in stunned silence never saying a word about the incident.

Several days later a newspaper article announced that the authorities had captured the elephant that had escaped from the disabled circus train and had been rampaging through central Alabama. The brothers let out a mutual sigh of releif and finally admitted to what they'd seen. They both thought that they were so drunk that they'd imagined it!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:49 PM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I know he ended up a sad and broken man, but still, I'd kill to have been in on that beer drinking session with F Scott and Ring Lardner
posted by C.A.S. at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2012


and by the way, I just heard from a friend who stayed at the Hotel Du Cap that F Scott and Zelda moved into for a summer or two. Wow that's another one I missed out on
posted by C.A.S. at 12:54 PM on July 31, 2012


My own short autobiography is more consistent, if less interesting:
Birth to Age 21: [REDACTED]
My 21st Year: Bourbon
My 22nd Year: Bourbon
My 23rd Year: Bourbon
My 24th Year: Bourbon
My 25th Year: Bourbon
...and so on.
posted by The White Hat at 12:56 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scott and Zelda did more living in their heyday than most of us ever do in a lifetime, etc.
posted by xmutex at 12:57 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be great to follow the course of the autobiography and have the same drinks in each place? Naturally, you couldn't have kirsch in a Burgundy inn against the rain with E. Hemingway, but just the kirsch in the same Burgundy inn against the rain without E. Hemingway still would be pretty awesome. Anyone wishing to fund my expedition knows where to find me.

I'm a little surprised that A. Bourdain hasn't done that already.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2012


Zelda was the mentally fragile one, not Scott

Zelda was institutionalized and is usually referred to as his "mentally ill wife," but Fitzgerald was also quite ill by the time he had an alcohol-induced heart attack at 44. He attempted suicide and was assigned a nurse to keep him from harming himself, with drink and otherwise.
posted by Catchfire at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a little surprised that A. Bourdain hasn't done that already.

Suddenly, so am I. This is going to bother me for a while, so thanks a lot you.

...and now, fifteen seconds later, I'm surprised that there isn't a tumblr on this. Dammit!
posted by aramaic at 2:13 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


what a charming little story.
posted by Avenger50 at 2:30 PM on July 31, 2012


They had abandoned airfields in 1920?
posted by basicchannel at 4:00 PM on July 31, 2012


Deserted, not abandoned.
posted by beagle at 5:14 PM on July 31, 2012


Scott and Zelda did more living in their heyday than most of us ever do in a lifetime.

I'm sorry but I'm not sure what this even means? What is "living"? I can't help but feel it buys into specious, romantic notions of writers and creative types, the twenties, rich people, and alcoholism.

The story of the Fitzgeralds is a tragedy, haunted by the ghosts of what Scott could have produced, if not for the toxic presence of alcohol in his life.
posted by smoke at 7:19 PM on July 31, 2012


He attempted suicide and was assigned a nurse to keep him from harming himself, with drink and otherwise.

Where is this from? Scott lived with Sheila Graham at the end of his life. As far as I recall, he was never "assigned" a nurse. And while I know of some evidence to suggest that Scott may have threatened suicide (specifically, Graham once told him to "go ahead and shoot yourself"), I don't recall that he ever tried.

Anyway, while Scott Fitzgerald was certainly a chronic belligerent drunk at the end of his life, he was never "mentally ill" in any way that phrase is usually understood.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:23 PM on July 31, 2012


The story of the Fitzgeralds is a tragedy

"Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy." — F. Scott Fitzgerald.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:33 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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