The Love of the Last Tycoon was Fitzgerald’s last novel. It was never completed, but by combining his notes with the partial manuscript, his editor and long-time friend Bunny was able to put together a pretty thorough manuscript. It’s almost like having a jazz age version of a choose your own adventure story. Which is pretty cool.
Because it isn’t complete, it’s hard to write a review about it. But I’m just going to put forth this quote, which I think not only encompasses what Fitzgerald felt about writing, about creating art and a story that people can fall in love with, but it’s about film as well. If the last tycoon could’ve made a film, before his tragic end, I think it would’ve included the following paraphrased scene, in which he’s trying to tell a haughty writer that just because the medium is different, it doesn’t mean that the story isn’t compelling.
“I’ve read your work and it’s good, but you’ve made nothing even halfway decent since you’ve been here. What the devil has the problem been?”
“Well, that’s different, those were novels. These, these are just pictures.”
Stahr sighed and thought for awhile. “Do you have a stove in your office?”
“Well, yes, but I rarely use it unless it gets really cold.”
“Picture this. It’s the end of a long day and you’re sitting in your office finishing up the last bit of paperwork before you can go home. Suddenly, the pretty secretary you’ve always had a thing for walks in. She doesn’t see you sitting there in the dark. She removes two dimes, a nickel, a box of matches, and a pair of black gloves from her purse. She quickly puts the nickel back into her purse, and tosses the gloves into the stove. She pulls out the last match from the box and begins lighting it. You notice suddenly that there’s stiff breeze blowing in. Just before it ignites the phone rings and she picks it up. She listens for a moment and then says clearly ‘I have never owned a pair of black gloves in my life.’ You suddenly notice that there’s a dark shadow of a man standing outside of the door, about to come in.”
“Go on,” the writer smiles, “tell us what happens then.”
“Oh, nothing. I was just making pictures.”
Gah, so perfect, so sassy. But really, despite his rampant alcoholism and young death, Fitzgerald never let go of this idea of the love and beauty of a good, intriguing story. Despite not enjoying living in one so much, he still aspired to retain that sort of fascination that keeps every reader turning the pages.
So, if Stahr, the last tycoon of the motion picture industry made the last moving picture, I think it would end in a cliffhanger.