I’m Groban Suggs, medium to the literary stars. Today, I have summoned the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald from the dark depths of the unknown to answer some questions about literature, life, and another word starting with ‘l’. Enjoy.
GS: I’m here today with Mr F. Scott Fitzgerald, respected and beloved author of The Great Gatsby, and (two minute pause) other things. Scott. How are you doing?
FSF: Being pulled back into the horror of the world is a traumatizing experience. I may never recover.
GS: Cool. So, Mr Scott, you wrote a number of things over the course of your distinguished career. Which would you say is your favourite work, and why?
FSF: I feel that ‘Tender Is the Night is my most personal work…
FSF: … I’m sorry.
GS: I said no. Try again.
FSF: … Well, I suppose ‘The Beautiful and the Damned.’ It’s a story about…
GS: It’s a story about nothing and everybody hates it. Choose another one.
FSF: Err, my short stories. ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’, ‘The Ice Palace’, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’…
GS: I saw the movie! It was a rip off of Forrest Gump and I hated it. Just say The Great Gatsby.
FSF: … The Great Gatsby?
GS: And what a novel that is! Beautiful, decadent, and its themes of rich people dancing, and how to spot the tell tale signs that your friend is a white supremacist, and boats, are timeless for upper class Americans who live in New York. Tell me about Gatsby.
FSF: Well, I got the idea when I went to a jazz party, and there was a man named James Gatsby. James was the son of a rich person, and he used to throw his money at people and shout ‘Currency is obsolete. One day fuel will be the only legal tender.’ He held these large, lavish parties, and then he would dance the entire night away. It turned out that he had incurable dance madness, and he died. We threw his body into the ocean so that we wouldn’t have to face questions from the police. And I thought, ‘this would make a great novel’.
GS: And then it evolved over time?
FSF: Well yes. James was too long a name to keep writing, so I wrote Jay instead. And then I changed every detail of what I just said, and made it the story about dislikeable rich people being dislikeable and rich, and sexing a poor woman, and then hitting her with their car until her boob came off.
GS: Gatsby has become an icon of the decadence of the jazz age, of senseless consumption and the thoughtless treatment of our fellow man. When Gatsby is shot in his swimming pool, it’s almost as though you were saying that if you faked your identity in order to get rich, then you’d be shot in a swimming pool.
FSF: Being shot in a swimming pool is my greatest fear. I included it to make everybody share my fear.
GS: Indeed. One of the most famous images in the novel is the billboard of the eyes of T. J. Eckleburg. What does that represent?
FSF: I once saw a giant man with eyes larger than my body, and I thought ‘That is terrifying. It would be less terrifying if he was a billboard, and not a real person.’ So that’s what I made him in the book.
GS: Wow. And the green light? What does that mean?
FSF: That’s a completely inconsequential detail, and I don’t understand why everybody fixates on it.
GS: I feel like my favourite thing about The Great Gatsby is that it’s really short. If you want to say that you’ve read a classic to impress and attractive, well-read woman, then Gatsby is better than War and Peace, because it’s like, a thousand pages shorter. I read it during the commercial breaks of my shows. It was great.
FSF: Tolstoy tended to write those long books because Tolstoy had no friends. Which isn’t surprising. He lived in Russia. I had a social life, so I didn’t have time to write long, shitty books about cutting corn.
GS: Yes. You were famously married to jazz icon, Ella Fitzgerald. How did she feel about you crapping over the jazz age all the time?
FSF: I wasn’t married to Ella Fitzgerald. I was married to Zelda.
GS: Huh. You just became much less interesting. Who is Zelda?
FSF: She was a writer and socialite too. Her mental illness was one of the great struggles of our lives.
GS: That’s bleak as hell and I don’t want to talk about it. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Thank you so much. Now I banish you back to the fiery depths of hell.
Tune in next time for more interviews with dead authors. I’m Groban Suggs. Buy my cologne, or the Icelandic mob will break my legs!