|Kerouac & Fitzgerald
||[Aug. 9th, 2004|10:03 am]
Found this paragraph in a book I was reading and it was close to home, really. In high school, I was a Kerouac girl. I loved his wanderlust. I loved his stream of consciousness writing. His love of cats. His suit coats. He seemed sensitive in a way I could appreciate. I tried reading The Great Gatsby. I knew it was a famously, well written book. I knew vaguely of Scott and his troubled, beautifully talented Zelda but his writing didn’t touch me like Kerouac’s. I remember reading somewhere that certain novels are not meant to be appreciated by youth. That some things need to be read once one acquires maturity. This quote of course annoyed me. It seemed condescending. But it came to mind when I re-read Gatsby not too long ago. It had been gathering dust on my bookshelves since I first attempted reading it “in my youth”. I picked it up again when I needed something to read, but had too many fines at the library to get something there. I had been reading a lot of biographies of Scott & Zelda and others of that generation. Earnest, Sara & Gerald, Mencken, Millay, Diaghileff, Sylvia Beach, etc. I had plowed through Fitzgerald's short stories & loved them. I read This Side of Paradise & found it somewhat muddled, but Gatsby was sublime. |
“That year, a middle-aged acquaintance asked me what my favorite book was and I said. “On the Road.” He smiled, said, “That was my favorite book when I was sixteen.” At the time, I thought he was patronizing me, that it was going to be my favorite book forever and ever, amen. But he was right. As an adult, I’m more of a Gatsby Girl- more tragic, more sad, just as interested in what America costs as what it has to offer.
We all grew up, those of us who took On the Road to heart. We came to cringe a little at our favorite poet, concluding that god was likely never to be Pooh Bear, that sometimes New York and California could be just as isolated as our provincial hometown, and that grown men didn’t run back and forth all the time bleeding soup and sympathy out of sucker women.
But those were just details, really. We got what we needed, namely a passion for unlikely words, the willingness to improvise, a distrust of authority, and a sentimental attachment to a certain America, still so lovely, as Kerouac wrote, “At lilac evening.”
“Take the Cannoli”
And I leave you with some poetry by Fitzgerald.
“Do you remember , before keys turned in the locks,
when life was a close-up, and not an occasional letter.
that I hated to swim naked from the rocks
while you liked absolutely nothing better?
Do you remember many hotel bureaus that had
only three drawers? But the only bother
was that each of us got holy, then got mad,
trying to give the third one to the other.
East, West, the little car turned, right or wrong
up an erroneous Alp, an unmapped Savoy river,
we blamed each other in cadences acid and strong
and, in an hour, laughed and called it liver.
And, though the end was desolate and unkind:
to turn the calendar at June and find December
on the next leaf; still stupid-got with grief,
I find these are the only quarrels that I can remember.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald