F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Come on. Do we really need to explain why you need to read this? It's one of the masterpieces of American literature. It's the best thing Fitzgerald ever wrote. It's the spirit of an entire decade compressed into a few hundred elegant pages. Your teacher already assigned it to you. If you haven't read it yet, close your browser and go do it now.
Fitzgerald's first and most blatantly autobiographical novel is essential to understanding the writer and his work. His descriptions of college hijinks may seem a little dated (and in some cases, politically incorrect) but his portrayal of youth's optimism, heartbreak and aspiration is timeless. Keep in mind as you read that Fitzgerald was only a few years older than you when he wrote it.
It's hard to recommend just one of Fitzgerald's short story collections, but this 1926 book is a good place to start. It was the most popular at the time of its release and contains "Winter Dreams," the story that Fitzgerald later said contained the first seeds of the story that later became The Great Gatsby. (In 1939 he was fired from the film version of the story for being drunk on set.)
This is Zelda Fitzgerald's only novel. The semi-autobiographical work caused friction between the couple—Scott accused his wife of stealing material from their marriage that he planned to use in his own semi-autobiographical novel. Fitzgerald frequently borrowed from his wife's work, often shamelessly. This is Zelda's chance to take credit for her own story.
This collection, edited by literary critic and Princeton classmate Edmund Wilson, contains letters, unpublished pieces, notebooks and the famous essay, all charting the rise and fall of Fitzgerald's fortunes and mental state. A fascinating glimpse into the writer's unpublished life.
This is considered the definitive biography of Fitzgerald. The late Bruccoli produced some of the best biographical work on the writer to date. He also directed the great Web archive at the University of South Carolina. The revised second edition includes an afterword by Fitzgerald's daughter Scottie Fitzgerald Smith.
Many writers have tried to examine the complicated relationship between these two literary titans, without much success. This book is one of the more interesting attempts, since it explains the clash of these two forces using mostly the writers' own words. Delve into their world of jealousy, competition, Hemingway's bullying and Fitzgerald's neurotic concerns about the size of his, um, manhood, and you start to understand why these two eventually drank themselves to death.