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On Booze Hardcover – 4 Nov 2011
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`For those with very short attention spans and a love of alcohol, I highly recommend a collection of F Scott Fitzgerald's writing On Booze, which is cautionary in its way.' --Daily Telegraph Saturday Review
`Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby may not be out until next year, but get a Fitzgerald fix with On Booze, a collection of his intoxicating quotes. Drinking has never felt more intelligent.' --Grazia
`More problematic is On Booze, a selection of the wettest writings of the notorious two-pot screamer F Scott Fitzgerald. Ranging from the unsettling ("The Crack Up") to the unnecessary (pages of hopeful aphorisms), this is better suited to a New Year detox.' --Independent
`On Booze is a continually delightful, gift-friendly little number which is perfect for this desperate time of year. Tis the season to be trollied' --Dazed & Confused
'This agreeable and pretty little volume... is as momentary as a well-made Martini.' --The Chap
A beautifully packaged collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best writing about drink makes this a most intoxicating Christmas gift!See all Product description
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I have now read the book (something I suspect the blurb-writer did not do) and I find the snappy New Directions marketing on the back cover to be somewhat misleading. Yes, most of the excerpts relate in some way - some explicitly, others tenuously - to Fitzgerald and alcohol, but the book as a whole is far from being a "drunken debauchery". The best parts of it reflect Fitzgerald's unease with his world - the sorts of things that CAUSED his drinking - rather than the drinking itself or the aftermath. The book is a far cry from "Everyday Drinking" by Kingsley Amis, which truly is a compendium devoted to booze and hangovers.
Two of the pieces are superb. "The Crack-Up" is a retrospective psychological/existential self-assessment from the first part of 1936. It contains some brilliant writing, of the sort that engenders dropped jaws, heart palpitations, and sheer envy. "My Lost City" is a world-weary look back on the New York City of the Jazz Age and Fitzgerald's exuberant youth. Two other pieces - "Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number -----" (highlights and lowlights from Scott and Zelda's stays in hotels around the world) and "Sleeping and Waking" (about insomnia) - are worthwhile, though not special.
Since all of the contents of ON BOOZE are taken from "The Crack-Up", and since "The Crack-Up" can be purchased from Amazon for about two dollars more, my recommendation would be to skip ON BOOZE and purchase "The Crack-Up."
Seriously, whoever wrote the blurb on the back of the book should be fired.
All that said, this collection is actually quite good. Sure, it isn't as captivating, insightful or as memorable as some of Fitzgerald's best work, but it really plays to his strengths as an intellectual writer. I was particularly fond of `Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number ----------' and I found `My Lost City' and all its deep-seated observations of life and the struggle to connect with your own surroundings to be some of his best work. As a whole, this is a great collection. It is short and a brisk read (I finished it in a day) and it isn't too wordy and weighty so as to become dull despite the lack of action. These are Fitzgerald's thoughts, observations and personal ideas, and they read beautifully.