Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nursing a grudge against Fitzgerald?

The Guardian has been running a series of booklets that come with the paper containing what it believes will comprise a set of the greatest interviews of the 20th century. The one in the paper today was an interview of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Michel Mok written in the New York Post in 1936.

In an introduction Jay McInerney refers to the fact this interview is famous for being a hatchet job that almost pushed Fitzgerald to the brink of suicide. Reading it you are struck by a man who is on the brink of self-destruction but he paints himself out to be a loser with very little prompting from the interviewer. The real betray of trust comes from the nurse who reveals when Fitzgerald leaves the room the true state of affairs, which Mok is only too happy to relay:

“’Despair, despair, despair,’ said the nurse. ‘Despair day and night. Try not to talk about his work or his future. He does work, but only very little – maybe three, four hours a week.’”
What a great help that must have been to her employer. Mok took advantage no doubt of a man who should never have been encouraged to share his thoughts and his failings with a reporter. But the level of naivety is staggering from the nurse who manages to undermine any appearance of a successful return that Fitzgerald might have been trying to portray.

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