Thursday, March 24, 2016
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell
I love true crime, and I love The Great Gatsby (I think its concluding sentences are honestly some of the finest ever written), so that I would love this book seemed like a given. And I did love this book, even more than I expected.
Churchwell explores the fascinating, heartbreaking, scandalous. and, yes, careless, lives of the Fitzgeralds. From Scott and Zelda's seemingly never-ending alcohol consumption and partying, to Scott's deep felt disappointment at the lack of commercial success for what he considered his finest writing, and Zelda's descent into a series of heartrending breakdowns, Churchwell makes their world and the time period they lived in come alive in vivid color.
Churchwell also expertly weaves in the still-unsolved Hall-Mills murder case, and how its scandal, adultery, and immediacy as (tabloid) newspaper fodder may have influenced The Great Gatsby.
History, mystery, and literary theory all combine to make for a fascinating non-fiction read.