On Booze (New Directions Pearls)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
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A collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best drinking stories makes this the most intoxicating New Directions Pearl yet!
“First you take a drink,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once noted, “then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” Fitzgerald wrote alcohol into almost every one of his stories. On Booze gathers debutantes and dandies, rowdy jazz musicians, lost children and ragtime riff-raff into a newly compiled collection taken from The Crack-Up, and other works never before published by New Directions. On Booze portrays “The Jazz Age” as Fitzgerald experienced it: roaring, rambunctious, and lush ― with quite a hangover.
Beyond the balustrade of the Lausanne Palace, sailboats plume themselves in the breeze like birds. Willow trees weave lacy patterns on the gravel terrace. The people are chic fugitives from life and death, rattling their teacups in querulous emotion on the deep protective balcony. They spell the names of hotels and cities with flowerbeds and laburnum in Switzerland and even the street lights wore crowns of verbena. 1931 Leisurely men played checkers in the restaurant of the Hôtel de la Paix in
window. We spent much time getting ready for theatres. We saw Georgia O’Keefe’s pictures and it was a deep emotional experience to abandon oneself to that majestic aspiration so adequately fitted into eloquent abstract forms. For years we had wanted to go to Bermuda. We went. The Elbow Beach Hotel was full of honeymooners, who scintillated so persistently in each other’s eyes that we cynically moved. The Hotel St. George was nice. Bougainvillea cascaded down the tree trunks and long stairs
evolved Park Avenue wit, and for the first time an educated European could envisage a trip to New York as something more amusing than a gold-trek into a formalized Australian Bush. For just a moment, before it was demonstrated that I was unable to play the role, I, who knew less of New York then any reporter of six months standing and less of its society than any hall-room boy in a Ritz stag line, was pushed into the position not only of spokesman for the time but of the typical product of that
bête noire to such an extent that you can no longer see it black, like me in my drunkenness. Anyhow the story is marvellous. Don’t be mad at this letter. I have the horrors tonight and perhaps am taking it out on you. Write me when I could see you here in Paris in the afternoon between 2.30 and 6.30 and talk — and name a day and a café at your convenience — I have no dates save on Sunday, so any day will suit me. Meanwhile I will make one more stab at your novel to see if I can think of anyway
death sentence, and the cure doesn’t work — and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day. At that hour the tendency is to refuse to face things as long as possible by retiring into an infantile dream — but one is continually startled out of this by various contacts with the world. One meets these occasions as quickly and carelessly as possible and retires once more back into the dream, hoping that things will adjust themselves by some great