West of Sunset, by Stewart O’Nan

Blogging for a Good Book

onanStewart O’Nan is quite simply one of the best authors writing today. His quiet prose captures ordinary feelings and lifts them up in a light that shows them to be both specific to his characters and universal to the reader.

West of Sunset could be a departure for him; it’s an exploration of the final years of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life at a time when this icon of American literature had not yet attained the immortality that came with his creation of Jay Gatsby. (In fact, he was better known for Tender is the Night–and for his outsized lifestyle–than the work most people remember him by.) Brought down by his drinking and reputation he has fallen so far that he is relying on the charitable intervention of Hollywood friends to earn a living. At the same time, his wife Zelda is institutionalized in a North Carolina sanitarium, where her youthful free spirit has…

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