West of Sunset

West of Sunset

Book - 2015
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"A "rich, sometimes heartbreaking" (Dennis Lehane) novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald's last years in Hollywood In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a troubled, uncertain man whose literary success was long over. In poor health, with his wife consigned to a mental asylum and his finances in ruins, he struggled to make a new start as a screenwriter in Hollywood. By December 1940, he would be dead of a heart attack. Those last three years of Fitzgerald's life, often obscured by the legend of his earlier Jazz Age glamour, are the focus of Stewart O'Nan's gorgeously and gracefully written novel. With flashbacks to key moments from Fitzgerald's past, the story follows him as he arrives on the MGM lot, falls in love with brassy gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, begins work on The Last Tycoon, and tries to maintain a semblance of family life with the absent Zelda and daughter, Scottie. Fitzgerald's orbit of literary fame and the Golden Age of Hollywood is brought vividly to life through the novel's romantic cast of characters, from Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway to Humphrey Bogart. A sympathetic and deeply personal portrait of a flawed man who never gave up in the end, even as his every wish and hope seemed thwarted, West of Sunset confirms O'Nan as "possibly our best working novelist" (Salon)"--
Publisher: New York :, Viking,, 2015.
ISBN: 9780670785957
Branch Call Number: FIC ONAN
Characteristics: pages ; cm


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AndreaG_KCMO Jun 30, 2020

In college I fell down the rabbit hole of Lost Generation art and literature and have since romanticized Zelda, Scott, and their ilk. In Stewart’s rendering of Fitzgerald in decline, the flash and dazzle of the years between the wars gives way to struggle and, from the writer’s perspective, new depths of indignity in his working life. No longer a young man of acclaim, Fitzgerald’s trajectory angles farther downward with each failed Hollywood script, with each disastrous family vacation, and with each empty bottle hidden in his bottom drawer.

While Fitzgerald’s inner thoughts and dialogue fuel the work, O’Nan intersperses airy setting descriptions and snappy conversations. The effect is a roaming pace suitable to the protagonist’s restlessness. Appearances by his old guard friends, new L.A. opportunists, and celebrity acquaintances revitalize a story that might otherwise slog through the mire of Fitzgerald’s debilitated psyche. It is fascinating if disheartening to observe his desperate preservation of a carefree persona even as he freefalls toward ruin.

Jun 19, 2020

There are some books that I try to like more than I think they merit, and this is one of them. For people who are interested in F. Scott Fitzgerald, this would be a good read, and with that in mind I rate it higher than for a general reader. The writing style and complexities of the situations are both good, but I do find that a little memory jog now an again of the characters, what they are noted for, and even using full first and last names occasionally would help the narrative.

Dec 22, 2019

This is a very readable novel of the final years of the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald. As a twin cities resident for almost 50 years, I have driven by the Summit Avenue residence hundreds of times and lifted a toast at the Commodore Hotel. As with any historical fiction, a reader must rely upon the author to have done sufficient research to have "facts" upon which the story is created be as accurate as possible. I have frequently been disappointed. I believe Mr. O'Nan has done his homework. This novel has induced me to undertake two tasks: I now have in my possession Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bruccoli, Matthew J. 1931-2008 - reviewed as the best biography of the author. Second I am going to re-read The Great Gatsby. I recommend this historical novel. Kristi & Abby Tabby "I am not a great man, but sometimes I think the impersonal and objective equality of my talent and the sacrifices of it, in pieces, to preserve its essential value has some sort of epic grandeur." F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jul 14, 2019

believe I'm coming to the conclusion that O'Nan is one of the best fiction authors writing today. This well-researched novel is the story of the last few years of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life. Zelda is locked away in a mental institution, their daughter Scottie is tossed away in boarding schools, and Scott himself is trying to hack out a living as a screenwriter in a tawdry and decadent Hollywood. I was very drawn into this story and world, and it wasn't a pleasant place to be. I'm a great fan of Fitzgerald's work, so this fascinated me: such exquisite writing came from such a broken-down, self-indulgent man. Can producing great art bankrupt a person's soul?

Mar 20, 2017

A fictionalized melancholic look at the last years of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood as he attempts to resurrect his career and pay off the large debts he has incurred in the care of his mentally ill wife and schooling his daughter. Well written, interspersed with historical characters, this book is a worthwhile read if you are interested in the times or the character.

Aug 12, 2016

I was bored.

Jul 19, 2016

This fictionalized biography of the last three years of Fitzgerald's life is very sympathetically done. Unlike some stereotypes of him, Fitzgerald always worked and tried hard.

athompson10 Apr 06, 2015

Sad, moody and beautifully written.

LAYNE_A Mar 04, 2015

Vivid descriptions of old Hollywood, snappy late 30s dialogue, and multiple Dorothy Parker appearances make for a lovely biographical novel covering the last years of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life. The publisher's description calls it "dazzling" and that might be pushing it. I did not find the story as emotional or compelling as I had hoped, but it was well written and insightful.

ChristchurchLib Feb 17, 2015

With his wife Zelda confined to a North Carolina asylum, novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald spends his final years in Hollywood battling poverty, obscurity, and alcoholism. (Under)employed as a script doctor, Fitzgerald embarks on an affair with a much-younger gossip columnist, works on a novel (The Love of the Last Tycoon) and slowly drinks himself to death. Despite lively cameo appearances by luminaries such as Humphrey Bogart, Ernest Hemingway, and Dorothy Parker, West of Sunset is a melancholy, leisurely paced character study of a flawed man striving to create great art. Historical Fiction February 2015 newsletter.


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