Careless People

Careless People

Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby

Book - 2014
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" Tracing the genesis of a masterpiece, a Fitzgerald scholar follows the novelist as he begins work on The Great Gatsby. The autumn of 1922 found F. Scott Fitzgerald at the height of his fame, days from turning twenty-six years old, and returning to New York for the publication of his fourth book, Tales of the Jazz Age. A spokesman for America's carefree younger generation, Fitzgerald found a home in the glamorous and reckless streets of New York. Here, in the final incredible months of 1922, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald drank and quarreled and partied amid financial scandals, literary milestones, car crashes, and celebrity disgraces. Yet the Fitzgeralds' triumphant return to New York coincided with another event: the discovery of a brutal double murder in nearby New Jersey, a crime made all the more horrible by the farce of a police investigation-which failed to accomplish anything beyond generating enormous publicity for the newfound celebrity participants. Proclaimed the "crime of the decade" even as its proceedings dragged on for years, the Mills-Hall murder has been wholly forgotten today. But the enormous impact of this bizarre crime can still be felt in The Great Gatsby, a novel Fitzgerald began planning that autumn of 1922 and whose plot he ultimately set within that fateful year. Careless People is a unique literary investigation: a gripping double narrative that combines a forensic search for clues to an unsolved crime and a quest for the roots of America's best loved novel. Overturning much of the received wisdom of the period, Careless People blends biography and history with lost newspaper accounts, letters, and newly discovered archival materials. With great wit and insight, acclaimed scholar of American literature Sarah Churchwell reconstructs the events of that pivotal autumn, revealing in the process new ways of thinking about Fitzgerald's masterpiece. Interweaving the biographical story of the Fitzgeralds with the unfolding investigation into the murder of Hall and Mills, Careless People is a thrilling combination of literary history and murder mystery, a mesmerizing journey into the dark heart of Jazz Age America"-- Provided by publisher.
"Since its publication in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become one of the world's best-loved books, delighting readers across the world. Careless People tells the true story behind F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, exploring in newly rich detail the relation of Fitzgerald's classic to the chaotic world he in which he lived. Fitzgerald set his novel in 1922, and Careless People carefully reconstructs the crucial months during which Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald returned to New York in the autumn of 1922 - the parties, the drunken weekends at Great Neck, Long Island, the drives back into the city to the jazz clubs and speakeasies, the casual intersection of high society and organized crime, and the growth of celebrity culture of which the Fitzgeralds themselves were the epitome. And for the first time it returns to the story of Gatsby and the high-profile murder that provided a crucial inspiration for Fitzgerald's tale. With wit and insight, Sarah Churchwell traces the genesis of a masterpiece, discovering where fiction comes from, and how it takes shape in the mind of a genius. Blending biography and history with lost and forgotten newspaper accounts, letters, and newly discovered archival material, Careless People is the biography of a book, telling the extraordinary tale of how F. Scott Fitzgerald created a classic and in the process discovered modern America"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, The Penguin Press,, 2014
ISBN: 9781594204746
Characteristics: xxv, 399 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Nov 27, 2017

A very interesting and readable book. I must say the Library Journal review is way off the mark in saying "copiously illustrated." The word should have been "pathetically". Tiny black and white photographs with very poor resolution really detract from this book.

FW_librarian Jun 19, 2015

Albeit a bit slow reading for me, this was an interesting biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald showing the effects of the era of "loose" living during America's prohibition period (Jazz Age) along with the lack of investigative sophistication of police work and the new mass-media style of reporting a 1922 murder that is remarkably similar to Fitzgerald's Gatsby. More interesting were the numerous words and terms that were created and that we still use today.

Aug 04, 2014

There are not many books that so perfectly capture the term non fiction that reads like fiction and this is one! Not only does it capture the time period of the 1920s, it also brings to light many details and indescrepencies that exist about the Fitzgerald novel. And this only broadens my admiration for one of the most stunningly beautiful and insightful books ever written. Then to find a book that also gives such insight and detail to this era where so many rapid changes where taking place and where the media's perception of the cold blooded crime of murder was coming into focus is truly like finding a treasure.


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