CARL VAN VECHTEN
If there's an afterlife and F. Scott Fitzgerald is in it, he must be furious he left the land of the living so soon. Since he died in December, 1940, when he was just 44, he's had some of the best years of his publishing career. New collections of stories and essays! A new piece in the New Yorker! Most of a novel, heralded as brilliant! Not to mention the movie adaptations and the millions of copies of The Great Gatsby sold to high school and college students! Can you imagine the royalties he's missed out on? Plus, he's finally a genius.
His posthumous career has been so successful, in fact, it's hard to believe that there's anything he left behind that hasn't been pawed over by dozens of scholars and copyright lawyers. But recently, while poking around the Fitzgerald papers at the Princeton University library, Andrew Gulli, publisher of the Strand, a literary magazine out of Birmingham, Michigan, that specializes in mysteries, came across the manuscript of a short story called "Temperature," written just a few months before Fitzgerald's fatal heart attack.
"The story did not look familiar at all," says Gulli. "But it was similar to Fitzgerald's life at the time. The main character was living on the estate of a famous Hollywood actor. He'd just hired a secretary and was trying to finish a book, he had heart problems, he mixed a drink with some pills his doctor had given him and started acting like a complete loony."
Gulli's not a scholar—he jokes that his PhD is from the school of hard knocks—so he consulted some experts, who confirmed that the story was, indeed, by Fitzgerald and that it had never been published before. Fitzgerald's estate gave Gulli the green light to publish "Temperature" in the summer issue of the Strand, on newsstands this week.
This isn't the first time Gulli's found and published previously unknown work by a famous dead author. One of his hobbies is visiting the archives of writers he admires and going through their papers. "It's a fun, wonderful thing," he says. "As a kid, my greatest wish was to meet great writers." He's discovered short stories by James M. Cain, John Steinbeck, Joseph Heller, and Tennessee Williams, an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson, and an article by H.G. Wells. But he says "Temperature" is special.
"Many unpublished works by great writers are dreadful," he says. "But this one is very, very good. It's a comedy, with the great dialogue of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He uses his satirical abilities to great effect skewering Hollywood stereotypes. Fitzgerald knew how to capture a person with just a few sentences and leave you feeling satisfied. He wrote 300 stories, but this is one of the top 20.
"This is one of the highlights of my career," he continues. "I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. He could do so much, but we take him for granted. He dabbled in horror, science fiction, romance, autobiography. He wasn't writing the same thing 100 times. I love Eugene O'Neill, but some scenes he wrote over and over, like he was working on them and experimenting. Fitzgerald was very versatile."
An unfinished novel believed to be the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald has been found by the editor of a mystery magazine who seems to have a knack for unearthing the lost works of famous authors.
Andrew Gulli, editor of the Strand mystery magazine, says he discovered the undated manuscript -- which apparently had been sitting in a box in the Princeton University library for decades -- called “Ballet School – Chicago” last year, The Washington Post reported.
Gulli initially thought the work was a short story, like the Fitzgerald work he published in the Strand a few weeks ago called “Temperature.”
Regarding the “Ballet School” work, which is about 2,500 words, Gulli told The Washington Post: “There was a scene that could have stood solely as a short story,” he says, “but then it went on one more paragraph, and then it just ended abruptly. And I realized, ‘Oh my God . . . it’s a novel.’”
“I really liked it,” Gulli said. “It’s romantic. There’s a ballerina trying to make her way in Chicago. She has an attraction to a wealthy neighbor because he can get her out of this tough existence . . . and she can have a happy life with him. The story goes into the very hard training for ballet dancers. But then something quirky and unsuspected happens that changes her impression of him.”
Gulli has also found lost works written by John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, Joseph Heller and Dashiell Hammett.
AUGUST 01, 2015 5:10 PM ET
F. Scott Fitzgerald's story "Temperature" — which was found as an unpublished manuscript — appears in the new issue ofThe Strand Magazine.
Andrew Gulli has an unusual passion: finding unpublished short stories by famous American authors. He searches through libraries and archives, finds works, researches to confirm they've never been published — then publishes them in the literary magazine he edits,The Strand.
Last fall, after he'd just found an unpublished story by John Steinbeck, Gulli told NPR's Arun Rath that he'd actually been looking for one by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now, he's tracked it down — and he joined Rath again to talk about the find.
The story is called "Temperature," and Gulli says it has a little something for everyone. "There's some madcap comedy, some [P.G.] Wodehousian dialogue, some romance, even a little bit of some tragedy in it," he tells Rath.
"I just was struck by how funny, how interesting it was. And I said to myself, 'I really have to have this story.' "
And with some help from the Fitzgerald estate and the author's literary agency, he got it: The story appears in the current issue of The Strand.
On how he found the story at the Princeton University library
It was a tough hunt, because there were a lot of things that I had asked for, and there was an interesting fragment of [another] story. I was saying to myself, "Oh my God, I am so excited about this" — and it turned out that [Fitzgerald] had not finished it. For obvious reasons, you can't come back and say, "Please, will you just complete this story for me?"
But this one was finished. It took some research, but I looked through some archives, through some bibliographies by Fitzgerald scholars, and that indeed confirmed that it was never published before.
On how he knows it's a final version
The thing is, I can tell you definitely that it was a final version, because I'm the person who had to go through all these longhand, sloppily written manuscripts by F. Scott Fitzgerald, with a million corrections. And you sort of see the mind of the writer, how he would just scratch out whole pages and make notes in margins.
But this manuscript was very well-written, the typescript is very clean. There are maybe a couple of spelling errors that were very minor. So, this looked like it was ready for prime time.
On possible reasons why Fitzgerald didn't publish it
The manuscript is dated July 7, 1939. And Fitzgerald had sent a letter to his agent a week later, in which he asked to stop being represented by Harold Ober because Ober was tired of advancing Fitzgerald loans in lieu of work that had not been delivered to him. So that might have been one of the reasons why he'd not found a home for it.
On what's next
Well, I have something by a very, very famous writer of detective stories. And, as you can imagine, not all representatives of authors are as wonderful as the F. Scott Fitzgerald estate. So it's going to take some pressure to try to have this short story appear in The Strand Magazine. But I never quit.
Holden and the Central Park Carousel
When JD Salinger (Who grew up in the 1930s across the street from Central Park) wrote about the parks Carousel in his 1951 novel Catcher in the Rye, the ride was relatively new to the park. That is to say, it was the latest installation of the ride. Four other carousels versions had stood exact on the site since 1871, although the 1951 version was the only one built within a covered structure.
Actually, Salinger was probably referring to the carousel, one of the largest in the US, of his childhood since he had started writing the novel in the late 1930s. That version of the ride burned down in 1950 as did the prior version in 1924.
Today’s version of the ride was made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in 1908. It was originally installed in the trolley terminal on Coney Island in Brooklyn, where it operated until the 1940s.
Over 250,000 people ride the carousel every year.
Excerpted from Catcher in the Rye
After we left the bears, we left the zoo and crossed over this little street in the park, and then we went through one of those little tunnels that always smell from somebody's taking a leak. It was on the way to the carrousel. Old Phoebe still wouldn't talk to me or anything, but she was sort of walking next to me now. I took a hold of the belt at the back of her coat, just for the hell of it, but she wouldn't let me. She said, "Keep your hands to yourself, if you don't mind." She was still sore at me. But not as sore as she was before. Anyway, we kept getting closer and closer to the carrousel and you could start to hear that nutty music it always plays. It was playing "Oh, Marie!" It played that same song about fifty years ago when I was a little kid. That's one nice thing about carrousels, they always play the same songs.
"I thought the carrousel was closed in the wintertime," old Phoebe said. It was the first time she practically said anything. She probably forgot she was supposed to be sore at me.
"Maybe because it's around Christmas," I said.
She didn't say anything when I said that. She probably remembered she was supposed to be sore at me.
"Do you want to go for a ride on it?" I said. I knew she probably did. When she was a tiny little kid, and Allie and D.B. and I used to go to the park with her, she was mad about the carrousel. You couldn't get her off the goddam thing.
"I'm too big." she said. I thought she wasn't going to answer me, but she did.
"No, you're not. Go on. I'll wait for ya. Go on," I said. We were right there then. There were a few kids riding on it, mostly very little kids, and a few parents were waiting around outside, sitting on the benches and all. What I did was, I went up to the window where they sell the tickets and bought old Phoebe a ticket. Then I gave it to her. She was standing right next to me. "Here," I said. "Wait a second--take the rest of your dough, too." I started giving her the rest of the dough she'd lent me.
"You keep it. Keep it for me," she said. Then she said right afterward--"Please."
That's depressing, when somebody says "please" to you. I mean if it's Phoebe or somebody. That depressed the hell out of me. But I put the dough back in my pocket.
"Aren't you gonna ride, too?" she asked me. She was looking at me sort of funny. You could tell she wasn't too sore at me anymore.
"Maybe I will the next time. I'll watch ya," I said. "Got your ticket?"
"Go ahead, then--I'll be on this bench right over here. I'll watch ya." I went over and sat down on this bench, and she went and got on the carrousel. She walked all around it. I mean she walked once all the way around it. Then she sat down on this big, brown, beat-up-looking old horse. Then the carrousel started, and I watched her go around and around. There were only about five or six other kids on the ride, and the song the carrousel was playing was "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." It was playing it very jazzy and funny. All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them.
When the ride was over she got off her horse and came over to me. "You ride once, too, this time," she said.
"No, I'll just watch ya. I think I'll just watch," I said. I gave her some more of her dough. "Here. Get some more tickets."