On the Trail of Nabokov in the American West [The New York Times] On his cross-country trips chasing butterflies and researching “Lolita,” the Russian-born novelist saw more of the United States than did Fitzgerald, Kerouac or Steinbeck. [more inside]
[F. Scott] Fitzgerald saw homosexuality as a weakness—less a sexual predilection than something one undergoes in times of emotional distress. [Ernest] Hemingway used fiction to broadcast his virility after a sexually confusing childhood. Both were more sexually fluid than their contemporary reputations suggest. Cody C. Delistraty in The Paris Review
In literature, there are two key sorts of annotations: marginalia, or the notes jotted down in the margins by the reader, and additional information formally provided in expanded editions of a text, and you can find a bit of both online. Annotated Books Online is an on-line interactive archive of early modern annotated books, where researchers can share digitized documents and collaborate on translations. For insight into a single author's notes, Melville's Marginalia provides just that. For annotations with additional information, The Thoreau Reader provides context for Walden (linked previously), The Maine Woods, and other writings. Then there's the mostly annotated edition Ulysses, analysis of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, and the thoroughly annotated US constitution (twentieth amendment linked previously). More marginalia and annotations inside. [more inside]
By Heart is a series on The Atlantic's website where writers speak about their favorite passages, each illustrated by Doug McLean. Here are a few of the entries so far: Stephen King on two opening lines, Hanan Al-Shaykh on One Thousand and One Nights, Susan Choi on The Great Gatsby, Jessica Francis Kane on Marcus Aurelius, Fay Weldon on The Myth of Sisyphus, Adam Mansbach on Montaigne, Ayana Mathis on Osip Mandelstam, Anthony Marra on Jesus' Son, and Mohsin Hamid on Haruki Murakami.
Living Well Is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins is a classic New Yorker profile of Gerald and Sara Murphy, central figures of the Lost Generation social circle in 1920s France. F. Scott Fitzgerald created Dick and Nicole Diver, the central couple of Tender Is the Night, by merging himself and his wife Zelda, with the Murphys. Gerald was a painter of note (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4), whose masterpiece has been lost. After seven years of painting, Murphy stopped, and never restarted, for a host of reasons, from the illness of his son to his closeted gayness. But the Murphys are probably best known for "the special quality of their life." They hosted parties and lived in a villa on the Mediterranean coast and were both painted by many artists, including Pablo Picasso. They were the subject of a recent biography and an essay collection.
John D. Fitzgerald had written three fictionalized memoirs of his family's life in the late 19th-century Utah west before the night he happened to regale a group of friends with childhood stories of his money-crazed brother, Tom. At their urging, he crafted a funny and clever series of children's books chronicling the adventures of The Great Brain. Like countless other readers, the blogger and researcher behind Finding Fitzgerald (and its companion blog and Facebook page) has been fascinated with discovering the real settings and stories behind the books. And the truly committed can even watch Jimmy Osmond in the 1978 film adaptation.
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. [more inside]
Lists of Note is a new site from Shaun Usher, proprietor of Letters of Note. It posts interesting lists, running the gamut from funny to poignant, mostly by famous people, though other sources crop up. Here's a sampling of lists: Johnny Cash, Walt Whitman, Eero Saarinen, Don Carman, Marilyn Monroe and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In my younger and more vulnerable years I might have really enjoyed playing The Great Gatsby on the Nintendo Entertainment System. If you think you have what it takes to fight gangsters and advertisements and hobos, you might, too.
But most years were pretty close to $24,000. Despite his high income, he was not able to save or, as he said, “amass capital.” Fitzgerald reported every dollar he had entered in his ledger. He was impeccably honest in his reporting. But Fitzgerald did press tax conventions on some occasions. On his 1924 tax return, he deducted $2,450 as a business expense for a “trip to Europe for the purpose of obtaining material for stories, etc.” The American Scholar examines F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns.
In July 1915, a fresh-faced young man got off a train and presented himself at a working cattle-and-sheep ranch on the North Fork of the Smith River, a few miles outside of White Sulphur Springs, Montana. He was slender—about 5'8," 150 pounds—and arrestingly handsome, with champagne-colored hair and blue-green eyes. He carried himself so lightly on the balls of his feet that his wife later wrote, "There seemed to be some heavenly support beneath his shoulder blades that lifted his feet from the ground in ecstatic suspension, as if he secretly enjoyed the ability to fly but was walking as a compromise to convention." The ranch hands must have been astonished at the sight. F. Scott Fitzgerald had arrived in Montana.Fitzgerald wrote but one story set in Montana, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, but what a doozy of a story.
The greatest enigma of the US "war on terror": He was an intelligence officer of the Egyptian army, a CIA agent, a drill seargent and instructor at Fort Bragg, an FBI informant, and Al Qaeda's number one man inside the US. He was directly or indirectly involved in the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the 1993 WTC bombing, the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and 9/11. He trained al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and Sudan and wrote manuals on intelligence, terrorism and asymmetric warfare while living in Silicon Valley with his American wife. He plea bargained, never went to trial, and may be free or in witness protection today. Incidentally, he is barely mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report. Is there some sort of conspiracy or are officials simply afraid of having their gross negligence exposed?
Resolved, that Richard B. Cheney, vice president of the United States, should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that these articles of impeachment be submitted to the American people. If the evidence presented at the Scooter Libby trial was not already enough of an indictment of Real Journalism in the U.S. mainstream media (when it falls to New Yorker magazine to break the really big stories) it takes a magazine with the political prowess of GQ (and bloggers) to make a cohesive case for action against most unconstitutionally powerful Vice President in U.S. history. Those following the Libby case closely are beginning to realize that the Plame leak prosecution is anything but over. With a guilty verdict for Perjury and Obstruction of Justice, Libby would effectively be removed from being a defense witness in any forthcoming charges against Cheney. Fitzgerald still has Sealed v Sealed in his back pocket and it is now beginning to dawn on some that it indicts not Rove, but Cheney. Hat's off to Emptywheel for seeing this as far back as Oct. 30th, 2005: Tricky Fitzgerald!! He's been hiding Dick right in the middle of his Libby indictment. Now with a job approval rating in the teens the Curse of Dick Cheney continues. (Interesting to note that both New Yorker and GQ are owned by Conté Nast)
Liveblogging the Scooter Libby (Plame-outing) Trial. Get your popcorn. This is compelling (and potentially historic) stuff. Firedoglake.com is highly recommended. There is also a lot of knowledge to be found in the comments. Feel somewhat behind and want to catch-up quickly? Some are wondering why this isn't getting more play in the evening news. Perhaps the public isn't clamoring for it? ABCnews, CBS News, NBC/MSNBC News (does this page even work?), FoxNews, and CNN.
Politics/PlameFilter: In opening arguments today in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House." An MSNBC host asked whether this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation. Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
"I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in 'Who's Who in America.'" Bob "Prince of Darkness" Novak comes clean (sort of) on his role in the Plame scandal. Novak asserts that Fitzgerald knew the identities of his source for Plame's identity. "That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act," Novak says. Further, he says that his source spilled the beans inadvertently: "After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part."
Intrigues at the White House: Andrew Card, Bush's longtime chief of staff -- the guy who briefly interrupted the President's reading of The Pet Goat one rough morning in 2001 and took heat for the Katrina and Dubai debacles -- is out, replaced by budget director "Yosh" Bolten, the one-time founder of a club called "Bikers for Bush." Meanwhile, is Rove rolling over for Patrick Fitzgerald, and if so, what's the angle?
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
Fitzmas is coming!... isn't it? Can you stand the anticipation? Could this major holiday turn out to be a big letdown? (Remember, "Fantasies of Cheney being indicted and Bush as unindicted coconspirator are just that at this point--fantasies.") But that doesn't mean we can't be ready with Fitzmas carols or Indictment Bingo, which Wonkette proposed and BackupBrain has now rendered as an actual randomized Fitzmas Bingo card for playing along at home.
Why outing Plame mattered. If you wonder what's really at stake behind all the media buzz around the Fitzgerald indictments, read this lengthy and cogent analysis by Stratfor's no-nonsense George Friedman. "Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a 'bodyguard of lies' -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities... The minimal story -- that they talked about Plame with a reporter -- is the end of the matter."
Bobby Fischer the Great Brain. "The Great Brain books are based on the true life stories of John D. and his family, in particular his older brother Tom, who is so clever he always seems to get his way... While we were reading the second in the series, More Adventures of the Great Brain, we learned about a camping trip that J.D.'s family went on in Beaver Canyon, Utah. We recognized some landmarks described in the book, and decided to go on a field trip to try to find the town of Adenville where the Great Brain lived.