Monday, April 6, 2015

West of Sunset (Stewart O'Nan)

Ahh, the glory days -- when Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Humphrey Bogart, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all roamed the earth at the same time.  Reading Stewart O'Nan's West of Sunset is like taking a trip back to this glamorous period, with cameos from the greats of Hollywood's Golden Age.

West of Sunset focuses on Fitzgerald during the last few years of his life, when Gatsby had been out for awhile, and the money was running out.  Literary buffs know that Zelda, his wife, had long suffered from mental illness and was confined to an asylum.  To make ends meet, Fitzgerald moved out to California to write dialogue for movie scripts; while there, he fell in love with a Hollywood gossip columnist and beganThe Last Tycoon.

The best thing about West of Sunset is O'Nan's ability to form pictures in your mind.  I love historical fiction and especially this time period, but I think anyone would appreciate the author's depiction of this thoroughly flawed man just trying to put one foot in front of the other.