I love F. Scott Fitzgerald in a way that I cannot quite describe. It is a love that began the first time I read ‘The Beautiful and Damned’ and has only ever grown. When I read ‘This Side of Paradise’ a few months ago, in my Goodreads reviews I said that I had read all of his works. This was a lie. Ashamedly, I did not know of ‘The Last Tycoon’ and so I hurriedly bought it the other week and devoured it as quickly as I could so that this major problem could be resolved immediately.
Having now read all of Fitzgerald’s works I can conclude that ‘The Last Tycoon’ is second in my ranking after ‘The Beautiful and Damned’. It is an adventurous tirade against Hollywood in the post-depression era. It is written in typical Fitzgerald prose where the words dance across the page effortlessly and paint a beautifully tragic picture of the end of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age.
‘The Last Tycoon’ is told through the voice of Celia Brady who claims the prize as Fitzgerald’s most vocal heroine. Celia falls in love with Monroe Stahr, a partner in her father’s movie making business. Stahr joins the ranks of Anthony, Gatsby, Dick Diver and Amory Blaine as a tragic protagonist caught up in the failed American Dream. Celia narrates the story of Stahr engaging in a new romance with a young woman who, macabrely, resembles his dead wife and how his life begins to fall apart until he is saved from complete destruction by Fitzgerald’s own death.
Despite the abrupt ending of the book, it truly is one of Fitzgerald’s finest pieces of work. I imagine that this is a good Reading Group novel where people can discuss potential endings. The substance of the novel is in traditional Fitzgerald style but its main difference is that the subject matter deals with the aftermath of the Great Depression and the ending of the Jazz Age; as opposed to his previous focus upon the mistaken glamour of the 1920s. Fitzgerald is one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century and I sincerely hope that his works live on for another hundred years and more.