The Last Tycoon (1941)
*been on my queue for two years*
The Last Tycoon is an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. More recently, the title has been changed to The Love of the Last Tycoon as there are number of materials left by Fitzgerald about this novel that was found and meticulously compiled after his death at the age of 44. For this reason this was the only Fitzgerald novel that I hadn’t read, but serves as a great read for what could have been. The book was written from Fitzgerald’s own experience in Hollywood in his failed attempt at screen writing. Though for what it is worth, I think if given control probably could of wrote some compelling films than the one that he was actually credited for, especially considering the bad remakes of The Great Gatsby that come out every other decade.
The story is about a love affair between a major Hollywood producer and a mysterious up-and-coming actress that almost plays out like a classic Hollywood film itself. It ends abruptly at chapter six but one gets a sense of pessimism in the direction of their relationship. The interesting play on this seemingly simplistic story is through the narrative alternating between first person and third person omniscient. In several incidents scenes will be retold in an alternate perspective, which really gave depth to the story.
In addition to this the characterization really showed itself through the six chapters, of which most were spent building it. Of all the Fitzgerald protagonists this to me felt like it was to be his most realized. The protagonists Antony Patch and Amory Blaine, of The Beautiful and the Damned and This Side of Paradise respectively, felt like romantic projections of Fitzgerald himself. This Side of Paradise had the Ivy league college Dropout out to conquer the world that represented his first novel. The Beautiful and the Damned came after his success and represented the witty reckless alcoholic that he came to be. While his other two novels The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night were much more objective, the protagonist here comes in quite differently combining the best of both. On one hand he was conceived from himself, yet he is critiqued and portrayed in a way that shows an objective intelligence. An interesting short read.