LLR Books

“Crazy Sunday” by F. Scott Fitzgerald-

It was Sunday–not a day, but rather a gap between two other days. Behind, for all of them, lay sets and sequences, the long waits under the crane that swung the microphone, the hundred miles a day by automobiles to and fro across a county, the struggles of rival ingenuities in the conference rooms, the ceaseless compromise, the clash and strain of many personalities fighting for their lives. And now Sunday, with individual life starting up again, with a glow kindling in eyes that had been glazed with monotony the afternoon before. Slowly as the hours waned they came awake like “Puppenfeen” in a toy shop: an intense colloquy in a corner, lovers disappearing to neck in a hall. And the feeling of “Hurry, it’s not too late, but for God’s sake hurry before the blessed forty hours of leisure are over.”

Joel Coles was writing continuity. He was twenty-eight and not yet broken by Hollywood. He had had what were considered nice assignments since his arrival six months before and he submitted his scenes and sequences with enthusiasm. He referred to himself modestly as a hack but really did not think of it that way. His mother had been a successful actress; Joel had spent his childhood between London and New York trying to separate the real from the unreal, or at least to keep one guess ahead. He was a handsome man with the pleasant cow-brown eyes that in 1913 had gazed out at Broadway audiences from his mother’s face.

When the invitation came it made him sure that he was getting somewhere. Ordinarily he did not go out on Sundays but stayed sober and took work home with him. Recently they had given him a Eugene O’Neill play destined for a very important lady indeed. Everything he had done so far had pleased Miles Calman, and Miles Calman was the only director on the lot who did not work under a supervisor and was responsible to the money men alone. Everything was clicking into place in Joel’s career. (“This is Mr. Calman’s secretary. Will you come to tea from four to six Sunday–he lives in Beverly Hills, number–.”)

Joel was flattered. It would be a party out of the top-drawer. It was a tribute to himself as a young man of promise. The Marion Davies’ crowd, the high-hats, the big currency numbers, perhaps even Dietrich and Garbo and the Marquise, people who were not seen everywhere, would probably be at Calman’s.

“I won’t take anything to drink,” he assured himself. Calman was audibly tired of rummies, and thought it was a pity the industry could not get along without them.

Joel agreed that writers drank too much–he did himself, but he wouldn’t this afternoon. He wished Miles would be within hearing when the cocktails were passed to hear his succinct, unobtrusive, “No, thank you.”

Miles Calman’s house was built for great emotional moments–there was an air of listening, as if the far silences of its vistas hid an audience, but this afternoon it was thronged, as though people had been bidden rather than asked. Joel noted with pride that only two other writers from the studio were in the crowd, an ennobled limey and, somewhat to his surprise, Nat Keogh, who had evoked Calman’s impatient comment on drunks.

Stella Calman (Stella Walker, of course) did not move on to her other guests after she spoke to Joel. She lingered–she looked at him with the sort of beautiful look that demands some sort of acknowledgment and Joe drew quickly on the dramatic adequacy inherited from his mother: “Well, you look about sixteen! Where’s your kiddy car?”

She was visibly pleased; she lingered. He felt that he should say something more, something confident and easy–he had first met her when she was struggling for bits in New York. At the moment a tray slid up and Stella put a cocktail glass into his hand.

“Everybody’s afraid, aren’t they?” he said, looking at it absently. “Everybody watches for everybody else’s blunders, or tries to make sure they’re with people that’ll do them credit. Of course that’s not true in your house,” he covered himself hastily. “I just meant generally in Hollywood.”

Stella agreed. She presented several people to Joel as if he were very important. Reassuring himself that Miles was at the other side of the room, Joel drank the cocktail.

“So you have a baby?” he said. “That’s the time to look out. After a pretty woman has had her first child, she’s very vulnerable, because she wants to be reassured about her own charm. She’s got to have some new man’s unqualified devotion to prove to herself she hasn’t lost anything.”

“I never get anybody’s unqualified devotion,” Stella said rather resentfully.
“They’re afraid of your husband.”
“You think that’s it?” She wrinkled her brow over the idea; then the conversation was interrupted at the exact moment Joel would have chosen.

Her attentions had given him confidence. Not for him to join safe groups, to slink to refuge under the wings of such acquaintances as he saw about the room. He walked to the window and looked out toward the Pacific, colorless under its sluggish sunset. It was good here–the American Riviera and all that, if there were ever time to enjoy it. The handsome, well-dressed people in the room, the lovely girls, and the–well, the lovely girls. You couldn’t have everything.

He saw Stella’s fresh boyish face, with the tired eyelid that always drooped a little over one eye, moving about among her guests and he wanted to sit with her and talk a long time as if she were a girl instead of a name; he followed her to see if she paid anyone as much attention as she had paid him. He took another cocktail–not because he needed confidence but because she had given him so much of it. Then he sat down beside the director’s mother.
“Your son’s gotten to be a legend, Mrs. Calman–Oracle and a Man of Destiny and all that. Personally, I’m against him but I’m in a minority. What do you think of him? Are you impressed? Are you surprised how far he’s gone?”

“No, I’m not surprised,” she said calmly. “We always expected a lot from Miles.”
“Well now, that’s unusual,” remarked Joel. “I always think all mothers are like Napoleon’s mother. My mother didn’t want me to have anything to do with the entertainment business. She wanted me to go to West Point and be safe.”
“We always had every confidence in Miles.” . . .

He stood by the built-in bar of the dining room with the good-humored, heavy-drinking, highly paid Nat Keogh.

“–I made a hundred grand during the year and lost forty grand gambling, so now I’ve hired a manager.”

“You mean an agent,” suggested Joel.

“No, I’ve got that too. I mean a manager. I make over everything to my wife and then he and my wife get together and hand me out the money. I pay him five thousand a year to hand me out my money.”

“You mean your agent.”

“No, I mean my manager, and I’m not the only one–a lot of other irresponsible people have him.”

“Well, if you’re irresponsible why are you responsible enough to hire a manager?”
“I’m just irresponsible about gambling. Look here–”
A singer performed; Joel and Nat went forward with the others to listen.


II
The singing reached Joel vaguely; he felt happy and friendly toward all the people gathered there, people of bravery and industry, superior to a bourgeoisie that outdid them in ignorance and loose living, risen to a position of the highest prominence in a nation that for a decade had wanted only to be entertained. He liked them–he loved them. Great waves of good feeling flowed through him.

As the singer finished his number and there was a drift toward the hostess to say good-by, Joel had an idea. He would give them “Building It Up,” his own composition. It was his only parlor trick, it had amused several parties and it might please Stella Walker. Possessed by the hunch, his blood throbbing with the scarlet corpuscles of exhibitionism, he sought her.
“Of course,” she cried. “Please! Do you need anything?”

“Someone has to be the secretary that I’m supposed to be dictating to.”
“I’ll be her.”

As the word spread the guests in the hall, already putting on their coats to leave, drifted back and Joel faced the eyes of many strangers. He had a dim foreboding, realizing that the man who had just performed was a famous radio entertainer. Then someone said “Sh!” and he was alone with Stella, the center of a sinister Indian-like half-circle. Stella smiled up at him expectantly–he began.

His burlesque was based upon the cultural limitations of Mr. Dave Silverstein, an independent producer; Silverstein was presumed to be dictating a letter outlining a treatment of a story he had bought.

“–a story of divorce, the younger generators and the Foreign Legion,” he heard his voice saying, with the intonations of Mr. Silverstein. “But we got to build it up, see?”
A sharp pang of doubt struck through him. The faces surrounding him in the gently molded light were intent and curious, but there was no ghost of a smile anywhere; directly in front the Great Lover of the screen glared at him with an eye as keen as the eye of a potato. Only Stella Walker looked up at him with a radiant, never faltering smile.

“If we make him a Menjou type, then we get a sort of Michael Arlen only with a Honolulu atmosphere.”
Still not a ripple in front, but in the rear a rustling, a perceptible shift toward the left, toward the front door.
“–then she says she feels this sex appil for him and he burns out and says ‘Oh go on destroy yourself’–”
At some point he heard Nat Keogh snicker and here and there were a few encouraging faces, but as he finished he had the sickening realization that he had made a fool of himself in view of an important section of the picture world, upon whose favor depended his career.
For a moment he existed in the midst of a confused silence, broken by a general trek for the door. He felt the undercurrent of derision that rolled through the gossip; then–all this was in the space of ten seconds–the Great Lover, his eye hard and empty as the eye of a needle, shouted “Boo! Boo!” voicing in an overtone what he felt was the mood of the crowd. It was the resentment of the professional toward the amateur, of the community toward the stranger, the thumbs-down of the clan.

Only Stella Walker was still standing near and thanking him as if he had been an unparalleled success, as if it hadn’t occurred to her that anyone hadn’t liked it. As Nat Keogh helped him into his overcoat, a great wave of self-disgust swept over him and he clung desperately to his rule of never betraying an inferior emotion until he no longer felt it.
“I was a flop,” he said lightly, to Stella. “Never mind, it’s a good number when appreciated. Thanks for your co√∂peration.”

The smile did not leave her face–he bowed rather drunkenly and Nat drew him toward the door. . . .

The arrival of his breakfast awakened him into a broken and ruined world. Yesterday he was himself, a point of fire against an industry, today he felt that he was pitted under an enormous disadvantage, against those faces, against individual contempt and collective sneer. Worse than that, to Miles Calman he was become one of those rummies, stripped of dignity, whom Calman regretted he was compelled to use. To Stella Walker, on whom he had forced a martyrdom to preserve the courtesy of her house–her opinion he did not dare to guess. His gastric juices ceased to flow and he set his poached eggs back on the telephone table. He wrote:

DEAR MILES: You can imagine my profound self-disgust. I confess to a taint of exhibitionism, but at six o’clock in the afternoon, in broad daylight! Good God! My apologies to your wife.
Yours ever,
JOEL COLES.

Joel emerged from his office on the lot only to slink like a malefactor to the tobacco store. So suspicious was his manner that one of the studio police asked to see his admission card. He had decided to eat lunch outside when Nat Keogh, confident and cheerful, overtook him.
“What do you mean you’re in permanent retirement? What if that Three Piece Suit did boo you?
“Why, listen,” he continued, drawing Joel into the studio restaurant. “The night of one of his premiers at Grauman’s, Joe Squires kicked his tail while he was bowing to the crowd. The ham said Joe’d hear from him later but when Joe called him up at eight o’clock next day and said, ‘I thought I was going to hear from you,’ he hung up the phone.”

The preposterous story cheered Joel, and he found a gloomy consolation in staring at the group at the next table, the sad, lovely Siamese twins, the mean dwarfs, the proud giant from the circus picture. But looking beyond at the yellow-stained faces of pretty women, their eyes all melancholy and startling with mascara, their ball gowns garish in full day, he saw a group who had been at Calman’s and winced.
“Never again,” he exclaimed aloud, “absolutely my last social appearance in Hollywood!”
The following morning a telegram was waiting for him at his office:
You were one of the most agreeable people at our party. Expect you at my sister June’s buffet supper next Sunday.

STELLA WALKER CALMAN.
The blood rushed fast through his veins for a feverish minute. Incredulously he read the telegram over.
“Well, that’s the sweetest thing I ever heard of in my life!”


III
Crazy Sunday again. Joel slept until eleven, then he read a newspaper to catch up with the past week. He lunched in his room on trout, avocado salad and a pint of California wine. Dressing for the tea, he selected a pin-check suit, a blue shirt, a burnt orange tie. There were dark circles of fatigue under his eyes. In his second-hand car he drove to the Riviera apartments. As he was introducing himself to Stella’s sister, Miles and Stella arrived in riding clothes–they had been quarrelling fiercely most of the afternoon on all the dirt roads back of Beverly Hills.

Miles Calman, tall, nervous, with a desperate humor and the unhappiest eyes Joel ever saw, was an artist from the top of his curiously shaped head to his niggerish feet. Upon these last he stood firmly–he had never made a cheap picture though he had sometimes paid heavily for the luxury of making experimental flops. In spite of his excellent company, one could not be with him long without realizing that he was not a well man.

From the moment of their entrance Joel’s day bound itself up inextricably with theirs. As he joined the group around them Stella turned away from it with an impatient little tongue click–and Miles Calman said to the man who happened to be next to him:
“Go easy on Eva Goebel. There’s hell to pay about her at home.” Miles turned to Joel, “I’m sorry I missed you at the office yesterday. I spent the afternoon at the analyst’s.”
“You being psychoanalyzed?”

“I have been for months. First I went for claustrophobia, now I’m trying to get my whole life cleared up. They say it’ll take over a year.”

“There’s nothing the matter with your life,” Joel assured him.
“Oh, no? Well, Stella seems to think so. Ask anybody–they can all tell you about it,” he said bitterly.
A girl perched herself on the arm of Miles’ chair; Joel crossed to Stella, who stood disconsolately by the fire.
“Thank you for your telegram,” he said. “It was darn sweet. I can’t imagine anybody as good-looking as you are being so good-humored.”
She was a little lovelier than he had ever seen her and perhaps the unstinted admiration in his eyes prompted her to unload on him–it did not take long, for she was obviously at the emotional bursting point.
“–and Miles has been carrying on this thing for two years, and I never knew. Why, she was one of my best friends, always in the house. Finally when people began to come to me, Miles had to admit it.”
She sat down vehemently on the arm of Joel’s chair. Her riding breeches were the color of the chair and Joel saw that the mass of her hair was made up of some strands of red gold and some of pale gold, so that it could not be dyed, and that she had on no make-up. She was that good-looking–
Still quivering with the shock of her discovery, Stella found unbearable the spectacle of a new girl hovering over Miles; she led Joel into a bedroom, and seated at either end of a big bed they went on talking. People on their way to the washroom glanced in and made wisecracks, but Stella, emptying out her story, paid no attention. After a while Miles stuck his head in the door and said, “There’s no use trying to explain something to Joel in half an hour that I don’t understand myself and the psychoanalyst says will take a whole year to understand.”
She talked on as if Miles were not there. She loved Miles, she said–under considerable difficulties she had always been faithful to him.
“The psychoanalyst told Miles that he had a mother complex. In his first marriage he transferred his mother complex to his wife, you see–and then his sex turned to me. But when we married the thing repeated itself–he transferred his mother complex to me and all his libido turned toward this other woman.”
Joel knew that this probably wasn’t gibberish–yet it sounded like gibberish. He knew Eva Goebel; she was a motherly person, older and probably wiser than Stella, who was a golden child.
Miles now suggested impatiently that Joel come back with them since Stella had so much to say, so they drove out to the mansion in Beverly Hills. Under the high ceilings the situation seemed more dignified and tragic. It was an eerie bright night with the dark very clear outside of all the windows and Stella all rose-gold raging and crying around the room. Joel did not quite believe in picture actresses’ grief. They have other preoccupations–they are beautiful rose-gold figures blown full of life by writers and directors, and after hours they sit around and talk in whispers and giggle innuendoes, and the ends of many adventures flow through them.
Sometimes he pretended to listen and instead thought how well she was got up–sleek breeches with a matched set of legs in them, an Italian-colored sweater with a little high neck, and a short brown chamois coat. He couldn’t decide whether she was an imitation of an English lady or an English lady was an imitation of her. She hovered somewhere between the realest of realities and the most blatant of impersonations.
“Miles is so jealous of me that he questions everything I do,” she cried scornfully. “When I was in New York I wrote him that I’d been to the theater with Eddie Baker. Miles was so jealous he phoned me ten times in one day.”
“I was wild,” Miles snuffled sharply, a habit he had in times of stress. “The analyst couldn’t get any results for a week.”
Stella shook her head despairingly. “Did you expect me just to sit in the hotel for three weeks?”
“I don’t expect anything. I admit that I’m jealous. I try not to be. I worked on that with Dr. Bridgebane, but it didn’t do any good. I was jealous of Joel this afternoon when you sat on the arm of his chair.”
“You were?” She started up. “You were! Wasn’t there somebody on the arm of your chair? And did you speak to me for two hours?”
“You were telling your troubles to Joel in the bedroom.”
“When I think that that woman”–she seemed to believe that to omit Eva Goebel’s name would be to lessen her reality–”used to come here–”
“All right–all right,” said Miles wearily. “I’ve admitted everything and I feel as bad about it as you do.” Turning to Joel he began talking about pictures, while Stella moved restlessly along the far walls, her hands in her breeches pockets.
“They’ve treated Miles terribly,” she said, coming suddenly back into the conversation as if they’d never discussed her personal affairs. “Dear, tell him about old Beltzer trying to change your picture.”
As she stood hovering protectively over Miles, her eyes flashing with indignation in his behalf, Joel realized that he was in love with her. Stifled with excitement he got up to say good night.
With Monday the week resumed its workaday rhythm, in sharp contrast to the theoretical discussions, the gossip and scandal of Sunday; there was the endless detail of script revision–”Instead of a lousy dissolve, we can leave her voice on the sound track and cut to a medium shot of the taxi from Bell’s angle or we can simply pull the camera back to include the station, hold it a minute and then pan to the row of taxis”–by Monday afternoon Joel had again forgotten that people whose business was to provide entertainment were ever privileged to be entertained. In the evening he phoned Miles’ house. He asked for Miles but Stella came to the phone.
“Do things seem better?”
“Not particularly. What are you doing next Saturday evening?”
“Nothing.”
“The Perrys are giving a dinner and theater party and Miles won’t be here–he’s flying to South Bend to see the Notre Dame-California game. I thought you might go with me in his place.”
After a long moment Joel said, “Why–surely. If there’s a conference I can’t make dinner but I can get to the theater.”
“Then I’ll say we can come.”
Joel walked his office. In view of the strained relations of the Calmans, would Miles be pleased, or did she intend that Miles shouldn’t know of it? That would be out of the question–if Miles didn’t mention it Joel would. But it was an hour or more before he could get down to work again.
Wednesday there was a four-hour wrangle in a conference room crowded with planets and nebulae of cigarette smoke. Three men and a woman paced the carpet in turn, suggesting or condemning, speaking sharply or persuasively, confidently or despairingly. At the end Joel lingered to talk to Miles.
The man was tired–not with the exaltation of fatigue but life-tired, with his lids sagging and his beard prominent over the blue shadows near his mouth.
“I hear you’re flying to the Notre Dame game.”
Miles looked beyond him and shook his head.
“I’ve given up the idea.”
“Why?”
“On account of you.” Still he did not look at Joel.
“What the hell, Miles?”
“That’s why I’ve given it up.” He broke into a perfunctory laugh at himself. “I can’t tell what Stella might do just out of spite–she’s invited you to take her to the Perrys’, hasn’t she? I wouldn’t enjoy the game.”
The fine instinct that moved swiftly and confidently on the set, muddled so weakly and helplessly through his personal life.
“Look, Miles,” Joel said frowning. “I’ve never made any passes whatsoever at Stella. If you’re really seriously cancelling your trip on account of me, I won’t go to the Perrys’ with her. I won’t see her. You can trust me absolutely.”
Miles looked at him, carefully now.
“Maybe.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Anyhow there’d just be somebody else. I wouldn’t have any fun.”
“You don’t seem to have much confidence in Stella. She told me she’d always been true to you.”
“Maybe she has.” In the last few minutes several more muscles had sagged around Miles’ mouth, “But how can I ask anything of her after what’s happened? How can I expect her–” He broke off and his face grew harder as he said, “I’ll tell you one thing, right or wrong and no matter what I’ve done, if I ever had anything on her I’d divorce her. I can’t have my pride hurt–that would be the last straw.”
His tone annoyed Joel, but he said:
“Hasn’t she calmed down about the Eva Goebel thing?”
“No.” Miles snuffled pessimistically. “I can’t get over it either.”
“I thought it was finished.”
“I’m trying not to see Eva again, but you know it isn’t easy just to drop something like that–it isn’t some girl I kissed last night in a taxi! The psychoanalyst says–”
“I know,” Joel interrupted. “Stella told me.” This was depressing. “Well, as far as I’m concerned if you go to the game I won’t see Stella. And I’m sure Stella has nothing on her conscience about anybody.”
“Maybe not,” Miles repeated listlessly. “Anyhow I’ll stay and take her to the party. Say,” he said suddenly, “I wish you’d come too. I’ve got to have somebody sympathetic to talk to. That’s the trouble–I’ve influenced Stella in everything. Especially I’ve influenced her so that she likes all the men I like–it’s very difficult.”
“It must be,” Joel agreed.


IV
Joel could not get to the dinner. Self-conscious in his silk hat against the unemployment, he waited for the others in front of the Hollywood Theatre and watched the evening parade: obscure replicas of bright, particular picture stars, spavined men in polo coats, a stomping dervish with the beard and staff of an apostle, a pair of chic Filipinos in collegiate clothes, reminder that this corner of the Republic opened to the seven seas, a long fantastic carnival of young shouts which proved to be a fraternity initiation. The line split to pass two smart limousines that stopped at the curb.
There she was, in a dress like ice-water, made in a thousand pale-blue pieces, with icicles trickling at the throat. He started forward.
“So you like my dress?”
“Where’s Miles?”
“He flew to the game after all. He left yesterday morning–at least I think–” She broke off. “I just got a telegram from South Bend saying that he’s starting back. I forgot–you know all these people?”
The party of eight moved into the theater.
Miles had gone after all and Joel wondered if he should have come. But during the performance, with Stella a profile under the pure grain of light hair, he thought no more about Miles. Once he turned and looked at her and she looked back at him, smiling and meeting his eyes for as long as he wanted. Between the acts they smoked in the lobby and she whispered:
“They’re all going to the opening of Jack Johnson’s night club–I don’t want to go, do you?”
“Do we have to?”
“I suppose not.” She hesitated. “I’d like to talk to you. I suppose we could go to our house–if I were only sure–”
Again she hesitated and Joel asked:
“Sure of what?”
“Sure that–oh, I’m haywire I know, but how can I be sure Miles went to the game?”
“You mean you think he’s with Eva Goebel?”
“No, not so much that–but supposing he was here watching everything I do. You know Miles does odd things sometimes. Once he wanted a man with a long beard to drink tea with him and he sent down to the casting agency for one, and drank tea with him all afternoon.”
“That’s different. He sent you a wire from South Bend–that proves he’s at the game.”
After the play they said good night to the others at the curb and were answered by looks of amusement. They slid off along the golden garish thoroughfare through the crowd that had gathered around Stella.
“You see he could arrange the telegrams,” Stella said, “very easily.”
That was true. And with the idea that perhaps her uneasiness was justified, Joel grew angry: if Miles had trained a camera on them he felt no obligations toward Miles. Aloud he said:
“That’s nonsense.”
There were Christmas trees already in the shop windows and the full moon over the boulevard was only a prop, as scenic as the giant boudoir lamps of the corners. On into the dark foliage of Beverly Hills that flamed as eucalyptus by day, Joel saw only the flash of a white face under his own, the arc of her shoulder. She pulled away suddenly and looked up at him.
“Your eyes are like your mother’s,” she said. “I used to have a scrap book full of pictures of her.”
“Your eyes are like your own and not a bit like any other eyes,” he answered.
Something made Joel look out into the grounds as they went into the house, as if Miles were lurking in the shrubbery. A telegram waited on the hall table. She read aloud:

CHICAGO.
Home tomorrow night. Thinking of you. Love.
MILES.

“You see,” she said, throwing the slip back on the table, “he could easily have faked that.” She asked the butler for drinks and sandwiches and ran upstairs, while Joel walked into the empty reception rooms. Strolling about he wandered to the piano where he had stood in disgrace two Sundays before.
“Then we could put over,” he said aloud, “a story of divorce, the younger generators and the Foreign Legion.”
His thoughts jumped to another telegram.
“You were one of the most agreeable people at our party–”
An idea occurred to him. If Stella’s telegram had been purely a gesture of courtesy then it was likely that Miles had inspired it, for it was Miles who had invited him. Probably Miles had said:
“Send him a wire–he’s miserable–he thinks he’s queered himself.”
It fitted in with “I’ve influenced Stella in everything. Especially I’ve influenced her so that she likes all the men I like.” A woman would do a thing like that because she felt sympathetic–only a man would do it because he felt responsible.
When Stella came back into the room he took both her hands.
“I have a strange feeling that I’m a sort of pawn in a spite game you’re playing against Miles,” he said.
“Help yourself to a drink.”
“And the odd thing is that I’m in love with you anyhow.”
The telephone rang and she freed herself to answer it.
“Another wire from Miles,” she announced. “He dropped it, or it says he dropped it, from the airplane at Kansas City.”
“I suppose he asked to be remembered to me.”
“No, he just said he loved me. I believe he does. He’s so very weak.”
“Come sit beside me,” Joel urged her.
It was early. And it was still a few minutes short of midnight a half-hour later, when Joel walked to the cold hearth, and said tersely:
“Meaning that you haven’t any curiosity about me?”
“Not at all. You attract me a lot and you know it. The point is that I suppose I really do love Miles.”
“Obviously.”
“And tonight I feel uneasy about everything.”
He wasn’t angry–he was even faintly relieved that a possible entanglement was avoided. Still as he looked at her, the warmth and softness of her body thawing her cold blue costume, he knew she was one of the things he would always regret.
“I’ve got to go,” he said. “I’ll phone a taxi.”
“Nonsense–there’s a chauffeur on duty.”
He winced at her readiness to have him go, and seeing this she kissed him lightly and said, “You’re sweet, Joel.” Then suddenly three things happened: he took down his drink at a gulp, the phone rang loud through the house and a clock in the hall struck in trumpet notes.
Nine–ten–eleven–twelve–


V
It was Sunday again. Joel realized that he had come to the theater this evening with the work of the week still hanging about him like cerements. He had made love to Stella as he might attack some matter to be cleaned up hurriedly before the day’s end. But this was Sunday–the lovely, lazy perspective of the next twenty-four hours unrolled before him–every minute was something to be approached with lulling indirection, every moment held the germ of innumerable possibilities. Nothing was impossible–everything was just beginning. He poured himself another drink.
With a sharp moan, Stella slipped forward inertly by the telephone. Joel picked her up and laid her on the sofa. He squirted soda-water on a handkerchief and slapped it over her face. The telephone mouthpiece was still grinding and he put it to his ear.
“–the plane fell just this side of Kansas City. The body of Miles Calman has been identified and–”
He hung up the receiver.
“Lie still,” he said, stalling, as Stella opened her eyes.
“Oh, what’s happened?” she whispered. “Call them back. Oh, what’s happened?”
“I’ll call them right away. What’s your doctor’s name?”
“Did they say Miles was dead?”
“Lie quiet–is there a servant still up?”
“Hold me–I’m frightened.”
He put his arm around her.
“I want the name of your doctor,” he said sternly. “It may be a mistake but I want someone here.”
“It’s Doctor–Oh, God, is Miles dead?”
Joel ran upstairs and searched through strange medicine cabinets for spirits of ammonia. When he came down Stella cried:
“He isn’t dead–I know he isn’t. This is part of his scheme. He’s torturing me. I know he’s alive. I can feel he’s alive.”
“I want to get hold of some close friend of yours, Stella. You can’t stay here alone tonight.”
“Oh, no,” she cried. “I can’t see anybody. You stay. I haven’t got any friend.” She got up, tears streaming down her face. “Oh, Miles is my only friend. He’s not dead–he can’t be dead. I’m going there right away and see. Get a train. You’ll have to come with me.”
“You can’t. There’s nothing to do tonight. I want you to tell me the name of some woman I can call: Lois? Joan? Carmel? Isn’t there somebody?”
Stella stared at him blindly.
“Eva Goebel was my best friend,” she said.
Joel thought of Miles, his sad and desperate face in the office two days before. In the awful silence of his death all was clear about him. He was the only American-born director with both an interesting temperament and an artistic conscience. Meshed in an industry, he had paid with his ruined nerves for having no resilience, no healthy cynicism, no refuge–only a pitiful and precarious escape.
There was a sound at the outer door–it opened suddenly, and there were footsteps in the hall.
“Miles!” Stella screamed. “Is it you, Miles? Oh, it’s Miles.”
A telegraph boy appeared in the doorway.
“I couldn’t find the bell. I heard you talking inside.”
The telegram was a duplicate of the one that had been phoned. While Stella read it over and over, as though it were a black lie, Joel telephoned. It was still early and he had difficulty getting anyone; when finally he succeeded in finding some friends he made Stella take a stiff drink.
“You’ll stay here, Joel,” she whispered, as though she were half-asleep. “You won’t go away. Miles liked you–he said you–” She shivered violently, “Oh, my God, you don’t know how alone I feel.” Her eyes closed, “Put your arms around me. Miles had a suit like that.” She started bolt upright. “Think of what he must have felt. He was afraid of almost everything, anyhow.”
She shook her head dazedly. Suddenly she seized Joel’s face and held it close to hers.
“You won’t go. You like me–you love me, don’t you? Don’t call up anybody. Tomorrow’s time enough. You stay here with me tonight.”
He stared at her, at first incredulously, and then with shocked understanding. In her dark groping Stella was trying to keep Miles alive by sustaining a situation in which he had figured–as if Miles’ mind could not die so long as the possibilities that had worried him still existed. It was a distraught and tortured effort to stave off the realization that he was dead.
Resolutely Joel went to the phone and called a doctor.
“Don’t, oh, don’t call anybody!” Stella cried. “Come back here and put your arms around me.”
“Is Doctor Bales in?”
“Joel,” Stella cried. “I thought I could count on you. Miles liked you. He was jealous of you–Joel, come here.”
Ah then–if he betrayed Miles she would be keeping him alive–for if he were really dead how could he be betrayed?
“–has just had a very severe shock. Can you come at once, and get hold of a nurse?”
“Joel!”
Now the door-bell and the telephone began to ring intermittently, and automobiles were stopping in front of the door.
“But you’re not going,” Stella begged him. “You’re going to stay, aren’t you?”
“No,” he answered. “But I’ll be back, if you need me.”
Standing on the steps of the house which now hummed and palpitated with the life that flutters around death like protective leaves, he began to sob a little in his throat.
“Everything he touched he did something magical to,” he thought. “He even brought that little gamin alive and made her a sort of masterpiece.”
And then:
“What a hell of a hole he leaves in this damn wilderness–already!”
And then with a certain bitterness, “Oh, yes, I’ll be back–I’ll be back!”








NY mansion linked to 'Great Gatsby' to be razed

SANDS POINT, N.Y. — A 25-room mansion some scholars believe inspired "The Great Gatsby" is to be razed for a subdivision.
Randy Bond, village clerk in Sands Point on New York's Long Island, says it will be replaced by five houses priced at $10 million each. The location faces the Long Island Sound.
Some F. Scott Fitzgerald experts believe the author used the sprawling 1902 property as a model for the home of character Daisy Buchanan, though the current owner believes the mansion's "Gatsby" link has been overstated.





David Brodsky says his family bought it in 2004, but says the house is beyond repair.
Historians tell Newsday, which reported the deal Sunday, that hundreds of the mansions have been lost in the past 50 years because of rising taxes and maintenance costs.
I very much doubt that F. Scott Fitzgerald would have mourned the loss of Lands End, a 25-room house on the Gold Coast of Long Island that provided inspiration for "The Great Gatsby." Newsday reported that the ramshackle mansion, which once hosted not only Fitzgerald but Winston Churchill and the Marx Brothers (not all at the same time, I assume) is being torn down to make way for a condominium subdivision.
After all, "Gatsby," that most American of novels, celebrates destruction, that most American of acts.
In the novel, the stately mansion belongs to Daisy Buchanan, Nick Carraway's dissolute cousin. As he arrives there for the first time, Nick is awed by the "cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens."
I first read those sentences in the ninth grade, and my response was very likely similar to that of the millions of American students who've been forced to read them since: This book is stupendously, unremittingly boring. The party scenes on Long Island are boring and the Manhattan scenes are boring, too. As for Nick sitting on the dock of Gatsby's empty house, "brooding on the old, unknown world" - that scene was only memorable because it was the last.
"Gatsby" remains one of the most taught books in America, right up there with (speaking of brooding) "The Scarlet Letter," "Catcher in the Rye" and "Hamlet." Few novels bring teenagers so much suffering in so few pages. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the developers of Lands End were razing the poor manse in a longstanding, collective grudge against their English teachers.
But we are bored by "Gatsby" only because we are dishonest with it. If it is "about" anything, it is not "the disintegration of the American dream," as SparkNotes (that lazy student's salvation) claims it is, or the corrosive power of love, or the romantic imagination or even the Jazz Age. These may have been Fitzgerald's topics, but they were not his great central theme.
"A huge incoherent failure of a house" is what Nick calls the mansion of his neighbor Gatsby (in the novel, it is across the bay from the one now being razed).This was also Fitzgerald's conception of his homeland as he wrote the novel - fittingly, from France ("The American in Paris is the best American," he once said in an interview, leaving little doubt about his allegiance). America, in "Gatsby" but also perhaps today, is a country fated to ruin what it creates, much as Gatsby is ruined by his unending stream of guests, "who accepted Gatsby's hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him."

Fitzgerald's Gatsby house is doomed
March 8, 2011 | 11:33 am
 The house that some say inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write "The Great Gatsby" is doomed. It's slated to be razed and its property parceled up into new developments.
The once-grand home called Lands End has fallen into disrepair. But back in the day, the 25-room, 20,000-square-foot Colonial Revival mansion was home to parties attended by Winston Churchill, the Marx brothers, Dorothy Parker and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. According to local lore, Fitzgerald drank there too, Newsday reports.
The home was built in 1902 and came to be owned by journalist Herbert Bayard Swope, one of the first recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and editor of the New York World. It was Swope's parties that Fitzgerald was said to have attended. The history of the house -- and its legendary influence on Fitzgerald -- was reported by Forbes when the house was for sale in 2005.
Located on 13 acres in Sands Point, N.Y.,  on Long Island Sound, the property has a private beach, a grand pool and wide patio (where, according to legend, Fitzgerald was spotted.) In January, Sands Point Village approved plans to raze the house and divide the property into lots for five custom homes, to be sold for $10 million each.
When the house was sold in the mid-2000s, it still had, according to the New York Times, "banana-yellow laminate countertops in the kitchen... neon flower-power 1970's-style carpeting in some of the bedrooms" and other design offenses that called for a full renovation.
Seems to me that an inspired eye could make that work -- although it would have to be an inspired eye with deep pockets -- upkeep was said to be $5,000 a day.
-- Carolyn Kellogg


Beautiful but damned: the house that inspired Gatsby
A mansion on Long Island that was frequented by F Scott Fitzgerald in the Roaring Twenties is to be redeveloped
By Guy Adams
Come what may, rich Americans will always, as F Scott Fitzgerald declared, be "different from you and I". In the novelist's roaring heyday, that meant they could throw grand parties fuelled by mint juleps and other Prohibition-era cocktails. Today, they can meanwhile devote their lives to realising obscene profits from real estate.
That is the conclusion one might draw from the news that Land's End, a 25-room mansion on New York's Long Island believed to have inspired Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, is to be razed by its moneyed owner and converted into five shiny new McMansions, worth $10m each.
The property was designed in the Colonial Revival style by Stanford White. It was built in 1902, amid 13 clifftop acres of mature woodland and manicured lawns, but will face the wrecking ball this month.
It's a sad end for a building which scholars believe provided a template for East Egg, home of the fictional Gatsby's neighbour Daisy Buchanan, and which hosted some of history's great cocktail parties.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Winston Churchill, Ethel Barrymore and the Marx brothers are purported to have stood on the veranda, enjoying the sweeping view over Long Island Sound. William Randolph Hearst, who kept a home nearby, is said to have greatly admired the main house's hand-painted wallpaper, Palladian windows, and marble floors.
Fitzgerald, a friend of one owner, the journalist and socialite Herbert Bayard Swope, is believed to have attended several lively social events there. Now the property seems as doomed as his novel's party-loving protagonists.
"I think it's probable that [Fitzgerald] used the physical aspects of Land's End as a model," said Professor Ruth Prigozy of Hofstra University, a specialist on the author, in an interview with the New York Post yesterday. "It was the view... That's what set it apart."
Land's End was one of many great estates built at the turn of the 20th century by wealthy New Yorkers seeking to escape the bustle of the Big Apple for the sea breezes of a picturesque region which became known as the Gold Coast.
Today, like many other mansions of the era, it sits in a state of genteel decay. Reporters peeking up its sweeping driveway at the weekend reported that the front door was flapping off its hinges, windows were missing, and wooden floors had been ripped up for salvage. Even the view isn't what it used to be, thanks to a century of urban sprawl.
The current owner of Land's End is a property developer called Dave Brodsky, whose father, Bert, bought it for $17m in 2004 from the widow of an owner of the New York Mets baseball side. He said he had hoped to restore the building and sell it as a family home, but it turned out to be beyond repair. Property taxes, insurance, and routine maintenance are costing him up to $4,500 a day, he complained. In the era of minimum wages, he cannot afford to maintain the servants that the household would require to run properly.
"In its heyday, it had 20 in help," Mr Brodsky told Newsday. "It was a true Gold Coast estate."
In 2009, to try to stop Land's End from being broken up, he put the estate on the market, for $30m. There were no takers.
The fate of the property mirrors that of many other historic homes in the Gold Coast region. In the Roaring Twenties, it boasted hundreds of large properties. Over the years, it crept ever closer to the urban sprawl of New York (it is surprisingly close to the Bronx), and began to fall out of fashion. At least 500 of the 1,400 major "north shore" properties were demolished during the 1950s and 1960s. Hundreds more went later as the great and the good moved to more secluded areas of Long Island, such as the Hamptons.
Today, while a smattering of historic Gold Coast houses are still standing, relatively few are in private ownership: many have been converted into religious retreats, conference centres, and schools. A former estate owned by the Chrysler family, for example, is now a military academy.
"The cost to renovate these things is just so overwhelming that people aren't interested in it," said Clifford Fetner, the manager in charge of overseeing the development of Land's End, which will become five "custom" homes with garages big enough for SUVs. "The value of the property is the land."
Unlike the UK, America does not have a system whereby historic buildings can be "listed" to prevent them being altered or destroyed. Instead, to the dismay of preservationists, America's architectural heritage is largely governed by market forces.
For Gold Coast historians, "the priority is now drawing attention to these mansions, saving what we can," the local writer Monica Randall told Newsday.
The destruction of important buildings "is becoming more and more of an epidemic," added Alexandra Wolfe, director of preservation services at the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.
Fitzgerald would doubtless be appalled. But the loss of Land's End isn't the only thing that may have him turning in his grave this week. The film company Warner Brothers, which is making a movie version of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, announced yesterday that the picture would be filmed not on Long Island, or even in the United States, but at a studio in Sydney.
Literary homes
Great Expectations
The 17th-century building that inspired Charles Dickens for Miss Havisham's home in Great Expectations has seen its own fortunes fluctuate. Restoration House in Rochester, Kent, was once owned by Rod Hull, the comedian of Emu fame, who bought the dilapidated building in 1987 and started its restoration. It is now open to visitors.
Gormenghast
Arundel Castle inspired the author Mervyn Peake for his Gothic classic Gormenghast, published in 1950. The castle, built at the end of the 11th century, has been restored and is the home



‘Gatsby’ or Not, Mansion Slipping Into Past
By Dawn Wotapka
 Bloomberg News
This mansion, which might have inspired parts of “The Great Gatsby,” will be torn down.
The dilapidated Sands Point, N.Y., mansion that might have inspired parts of “The Great Gatsby” will be torn down, Curbed and the New York Post report.
The owners of Lands End, a 25-room mansion that sits in stately isolation above picturesque Long Island Sound, will bulldoze the Colonial turn-of-the-century structure and carve the site into a five-lot subdivision with multiple $10 million homes.
The house will be the latest Gold Coast mansion to see the wrecking ball as the era of the rich-and-famous sipping martinis on waterfront estates slips further into the past. Historians say hundreds of the stately mansions have been lost in the past half-century as owners face increasing taxes and high maintenance costs on aging homes, Newsday reports.  At the 24,000-square-foot Lands End, taxes, insurance and maintenance total as much as $4,500 a day. Increased land values also make it very tempting to profit from subdividing lots.
The current owners are downplaying the house’s literary significance — likely to prevent any history buffs from complaining. “To be honest with you there isn’t anything really special about it,” David Brodsky, who purchased property for $17.5 million in 2004 with his father, tells the Post. “We did a lot of research on its history and there is really no evidence that [Gatsby author F. Scott] Fitzgerald was even ever there.”
Brodsky could not be reached for comment.

Zelda Fitzgerald's house in Alabama


Zelda Fitzgerald died in a fire at the mental hospital where she was about to undergo electro-shock therapy treatment on this day back in 1948. Here's a post from Star travel correspondent Petti Fong, our Western Canada reporter.
Montgomery, ALA. -- Before she became the world's most famous flapper, she was known around her hometown as Zelda Sayre, a spoiled, strong-willed and attention-seeking young girl from Montgomery, Alabama. 

The youngest of six children born to a prominent southern Alabama family, Zelda was named after two stories published in the late 1880s: Zelda's Fortune and Zelda: A Tale of the Massachusetts Colony. Zelda's ancestors included senators, newspaper editors and jurists.

Her father, Anthony Dickinson Sayre, was on the Supreme Court of Alabama and a leading jurist in the state. One thing I've always wondered about was whether Zelda's father knew Nelle Harper Lee's father, A.C. Lee, the model for Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Nelle Harper Lee's upbringing in Monroeville, Alabama was markedly different than Zelda's in Montgomery, about 100 miles away.

One thing Zelda and Harper Lee shared was famous childhood friends. In Zelda's case, she was a childhood friend of Hollywood starlet Tallulah Bankhead, while Lee's childhood companion was Truman Capote. Lee never married but Zelda became famously known for her marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald who she initially rejected because she was afraid he wouldn't make enough money to support her.

She was attracted to his promise that he would become famous and after he showed her a chapter from is book This Side of Paradise, she showed him her personal diary which he used verbatim in his novel.

The Fitzgerald home in Montgomery, Alabama considers itself the only museum dedicated to Zelda. The Fitzgeralds lived in the house from October 1931 to April 1932 during a period when he was working on Tender Is The Night and Zelda began writing her only novel, Save Me The Waltz.

The brick home on 919 Felder Avenue was leased because it was close to Zelda's parents in a leafy, established neighbourhood in Montgomery. A month after moving in, Fitzgerald was heading westward to Hollywood after accepting a screenwriting job leaving Zelda behind with their ten-year-old daughter Scottie.

She wrote daily letters to Fitzgerald, some of which are on display inside the couple's former home. "I think you're here when I wake up...your room is warm and fuzzy with you and I sit and look where you left mags."

She also described a parade outside but she didn't go, preferring the deserted streets. "The weather here is a continual circus day...smoky with the sun like a red balloon and soft and romantic and sensual."

The museum's executive director Michael S. McCreedy said his favourite piece in the house is a childhood book owned by Zelda. With a careful hand, he unlocked the cabinet and took out the tattered and yellowing book. Turning the front cover, he showed the faint writing made by Zelda herself.

"Please take care of this book. This is a splendid book - this book is wonderful!" and signed simply "Zelda."

Her paintings are also inside the home, which had been used briefly before becoming a museum for university students. The front room remains much the way it would have been when Zelda lived there and glance out the front window and except for the cars, the street has the same look as it would have almost seventy-five years ago.

This is how Zelda described Montgomery which she called Jeffersonville in her short story Southern Girl, written in October 1929.

"Every place has its hours...So in Jeffersonville, there existed then, and I suppose now, a time and quality that appertains to nowhere else. It began about half past six on an early summer night, with the flicker and sputter of the corner street lights going on, and it lasted until the great incandescent globes were black inside with moths and beetles and the children were called in to bed from the dusty streets."

On March 10, 1948, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald died in extremely tragic circumstances. She was locked in a room at a mental hospital in Asheville, North Carolina where she was awaiting electroshock therapy when a fire broke out in the facility. Nine women, including Zelda, died.