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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Burnt Out Case, 28 Feb 2014
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"I like Budd Schulberg very much but I felt his book was grave robbing."
(Hemingway- Letter to Arthur Mizener 2.1.1951)

"First Schulberg writes... something that really balls up everything about Scott and Zelda. I never saw Scott in that stage of his life. But the way Zelda is handled makes the whole thing rather pointless. "
(Hemingway-Letter to Malcolm Cowley April 1951)

As most readers will know this novel is a heavily fictionalised version of Scott Fitzgerald's last days when working in Hollywood. By then he was struggling with the worst stage of alcoholism and a very sick man. I have always found it hard to credit that anyone could survive the excesses of the 1920's with body and soul still attached and their creative talent still extant, and I have similar doubts about the appalling circumstances that Schulberg so vividly describes. The 'Old Business' flashback chapters, interspersed within the main narrative, are particularly interesting, as are the comments on the differing social attitudes in the 30's compared with the preceding decade. Perhaps the novel is a little too long, leaving the reader playing catch-up with events, but the intensity of the style is gripping enough. There is a lot available to read about the between war years and the contribution made by Fitzgerald Hemingway and many other writers to our appreciation of those times. "The Disenchanted" is on the melodramatic side.
With the 1920's writers once more in vogue I can recommend Arthur Mizener's 1949 biography of Scott Fitzgerald "The Far Side of Paradise". Much has been written since then and in his preface to the 1957 edition Mizener admits to having failed in his portrait of Zelda. But he does capture a feeling for that now very distant age that was, of course, more fresh at the time.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under the Red, White and Blue, 27 July 2013
Ryan Williams (Lichfield, Staffordshire.) - See all my reviews
Praise to Allison and Busby for reprinting this neglected classic in Britain.

Budd Schulberg achieved fame for writing On the Waterfront. As a young man, he idolised F. Scott Fitzgerald. Imagine how he felt when, as a young writer in Hollywood in the 1930s, he was partnered with his hero to work on film scripts.

But there were problems. Some were generational (30s blue collar radicalism vs 20s hedonism). Some, the most profound, were personal: Schulberg learned the hard way that meeting your hero - especially when he's become a gonzo alcoholic and 'spiritually OD' - isn't always best. He found that he was entranced even as he was repelled. That ambivalence forms the core of this novel, and breathes life into its pages.

A record of disenchantment, it does not despise wonder, and it is fair. 'Strange', the main character muses, 'how the decade that had made a virtue of irresponsibility produced more responsible artists than any American decade before or since.' It gives Fitzgerald's stand-in his due, saving him all the best lines: ('Readers want a sharp edge but they don't want to hear the grinding of an axe.')

You read it not just for what it says about fame, integrity and survival - though it is instructive on all three counts - but because it as moving and as true as any biography.
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