Since its publication in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become one of the world's best-loved books, delighting audiences 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: 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.
©2013 Sarah Churchwell (P)2014 Tantor
"Prodigious research and fierce affection illumine every remarkable page." (Kirkus Starred Review)
"[Churchwell] evokes the Jazz Age in all its ephemeral glamour and recklessness in her latest book….She excels at providing rich period details." (Publishers Weekly)
"Churchwell brings…a lively curiosity, a gift for making connections, and an infectious passion for Fitzgerald and his greatest novel…A suggestive, almost musical evocation of the spirit of the time." (London Review of Books)
half as long
There was so much detail, I couldn't finish it. I'd read Gatsby immediately before this. I liked it, but didn't adore it (too much hype over all these years? expectations too high?). I appreciated the value of such an in depth analysis, but for more casual reading/listening, that I find Audible books so nice for, it was just too much. I'd love to know who did it, but not enough to listen to every possible piece of background for so many parts of the book.
A sensational true crime story, historical anecdotes, weird facts and celebrity scoops--all from the year 1922--what more could an American history nerd want?
Add to that an insightful re-examination of The Great Gatsby in the context of these things, and you have a fascinating account of the height of the Jazz Age, and why F. Scott Fitzgerald captured its zeitgeist so perfectly that most contemporary critics dismissed the novel as being too "of the moment" to have any lasting resonance.
I'm not an American Lit scholar and it had been years since I'd re-read The Great Gatsby, so I can only judge this book from a lay reader's perspective, but I found it to be a true pleasure from start to finish.
While it's true that the overlying theme of this book--namely the exploration of the connection between the much-publicized Hall-Mills double-murder and how it informed the plot of Gatsby--becomes a little heavy-handed at times, at the very least it functions as a tidy framework for Churchwell to organize her narrative, allowing her to deftly zoom in and out between the Fitzgerald’s insular world and the bigger world around them.
The murder case, along with other news stories and commentaries Churchwell culls from that year, reinforces how truly modern Fitzgerald’s novels were. Vehicular homicides, “publicity hounds”, public intoxication, trial by the press, “spicy” poplular novels romanticizing infidelity--not to mention the unprecedented liberation of women on every front--were all still alarming new trends, the symptoms of a world turned upside-down and inside-out by rapid technical change and the Great War. The reckless behavior of both the Gatsby characters and the-real life Fitzgeralds reflected a national identity crisis that, arguably, we’re still trying to resolve.
It was fun to revisit the novel and be reminded of why no movie adaptation has been able--and probably never will be--to capture it's underlying brilliance.
Last but not least, Kate Reading's silky-smooth narration is a true delight--her reading of Zelda's voice is particularly mesmerizing--and the production is flawless. I will definitely be actively be seeking more of Reading's performances!
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
More than anything this is a solid look at the elite of the 20s. As my mother grew up in this it was very illuminating and very well done. Mind you, they are not nice people. But it's a very interesting look in the jazz world, and prohibition. Very interesting history.
Voracious reader since age 2. I give unbiased reviews in all genres: history, mystery, bios, crime, sci-fi - from front to BLACK!
While this is a well-researched book about the Jazz Age and F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby", there wasn't much more insight into Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda than one can find on Wikipedia.com. The narrator was boring and misprounced several words. Plus her idea of reading French words and phrases is to speak as if she's squeezing her buttocks tight and SPITTING the words out like the cartoon character Pepe Le Pew! You might like this book but I found it to be a colossal waste of time.
Here's the skinny:
The narrator is fine. Her name is Kate Reading. She may have changed it to Kate Sleeping after this snoozer.
"Careless People" should have been a juicy recounting of the decadent twenties in relation to F. Scott Fitzgerald's life and his writing "The Great Gatsby." And in a way it is. I realize this time period has been done to death in college papers and theses. That there are few tales buried anywhere that a student of the twenties hasn't heard before. But I always retain some hope that since someone has gotten a new "twenties" tome into print (or Audible,) that it will contain at least a new historical twist on the period or a few gossipy nuggets which will add to the canon.
Unfortunately, "Careless People" seems to be one in a growing list of works that are reconfigured dissertations or some other sort of paper written for a college course. These papers are then tortured into book form. The author, Sarah Chrurchwell, seems to have actually taken two such academic works and smashed them together to invent this book. This makes for a very boring listen. One line of info is about the way the press handled scandal at the time. The other line concerns the lives of the Fitzgeralds. The two activities are woven in and out of each others' telling but I have yet to figure out what it was I was supposed to extract from that juxtaposition other than this was the 'teens and 'twenties in America.
The academic slant was a real soporific. (I just don't want to here about the symbolism of the clock on a mantel in the "Great Gatsby." It's the kind of filler I used to use in my school papers to pad it to the required length.)
I kept hoping it would gel but never did. I didn't finish it. But I got to within an hour of the end and then deleted it. To its credit, that's longer than I've given some other books recently.
I really enjoyed this book. Unfortunately it went on for too long and the narrator could have been better. Poor Fitzgerald. He shouldn't have had to end up like he did. Definitely a cautionary tale for all.
Churchwell did a good job in her story telling. However the comparison to the New Jersey murders and Fitzgerald's books was a little overdone, or maybe just wasn't done well enough? It was a little dull. There were also conflicting stories than that I've heard before from the lives of Scott and Zelda that maybe should have at least been addressed. Still worth the read, even if it didn't keep my attention as much as I would have liked.
“I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
I found her reading style to be affected, and flat. As someone who is extremely interested in the topic, I found I was unable to get interested or really care about the story and it was solely on the performance. sorry
I had never read the book or seen a "Gatsby" movie. I was pretty confused because she kept reading excerpts of the Gatsby book. I bought the audio version of "the Great Gatsby".
After listening to it this book made more sense.
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