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The Crack-Up Paperback – September, 1993

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Paperback, September, 1993
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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About the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1941) was one of the literary titans of the 20th century. A member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s, Fitzgerald’s writings best captured what he termed “The Jazz Age,” a period of declining traditional American values, prohibition and speakeasies, and great leaps in modernist trends. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation (September 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811212475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811212472
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,000,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Avery on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
"This is too real and there ain't no escape" -- Nick Lowe, "Cracking Up"

I carried F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE CRACK-UP around with me for almost ten years before I got around to reading it last month. It was one of those books that I felt I was literarily required to read, what with my affection for all things Fitzgerald -- especially Gatsby. Once I got into the book, I found parts of it fairly impenetrable, which must have been Fitzgerald's state of mind while writing some of the material, a posthumous hodgepodge of uncollected pieces, samplings of notebooks, and unpublished letters (both from and to the author).

An excellent companion piece to the book is the PBS American Masters documentary, F. SCOTT FITZGERALD: WINTER DREAMS, which draws heavily from THE CRACK-UP. The film, in its quest to simulate the elegance that its subject so desperately tried (and failed) to attain, unfortunately breezes over some key points in the writer's life; but the DVD is well worth checking out (literally, either from your local library or Netflix). (PBS's website makes up for some of these omissions with a nifty timeline that puts all of Fitzgerald's accomplishments into context with the tragic goings-on in his life. It also offers some additional footage that does not appear in the film, most notably interviews with E.L. Doctorow and Budd Schulberg, who wrote the screenplay for On the Waterfront and who, as a young screenwriter, was rewritten by Fitzgerald.)

Originally written as three essays for Esquire in 1936, "The Crack-Up" was Fitzgerald's bearing of his soul, his confession, his mea culpa to the world at large for letting them -- and himself -- down.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Midnight Dancer on August 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the dreams and aspirations of so many people when he wrote of the fabulous excesses of the 20's - a time not unlike the recent "get-rich-quick" mania of the Internet bubble, which also crashed, destroying many fortunes and lifestyles.
In The Crack-Up Fitzgerald writes equally poignantly of the agony of the aftermath of such excess and unfulfilled desires and social insecurities. He was able to capture all of this so clearly because it was the life that he and Zelda aspired to and, from time to time, lived. But they were always just on the outside, depending on the generosity of others both financially socially. He takes no prisoners.
It is no surprise that he is still being widely read. Don't miss Fitzgeral - it doesn't really matter which of his books you start with, you will find yourself moving through the collection.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you ever wondered what the down side of the twenties were read this. The excess was all a grand show, an escape from post war realities. A whole generation seemed to refuse to grow up, at least for awhile. Maturity was forced upon Scott and in these short confessions he reveals that all was not well in paradise. He lived in a haze of liquor, that was the dream preserving liquid illusion. But reality was not to be fought off forever. This is as close to a biography as we have from Scott, and it is moving in the way it is moving to see an athlete we all wanted to believe would live forever come to his day of retirement. He had the ability or charisma compounded by artistic talent to embody not just his but a whole societies dreams. But his moment passed and by the time Scott wrote this his books were no longer the rage. What makes him such a tragic figure is that he never altogether let go of those first illusons, never went through a moment where he learned from them and let them go. And one senses just as he had the egotists ability to romanticize his life with his words he also had the ability to perhaps overdramatize his own demise. He was not a person to learn, become made of harder stuff, and continue. Still there is some good stuff in this book. His letters to his daughter( who also wished to become a writer) in which he urges her to read great authors including his own favorite Browning are touching and revealing.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Fitzgerald and Wilson are two writers who mean a lot to me. (Tender Is the Night and To the Finland Station being among my favorite books.) I have to confess that I was expecting more from this collection of Fitzgerald essays, letters and journals. The selection is thin, and there is no clear line for why some pieces were chosen and others were not. It seems to me that there would be room on the market for a more comprehensive collection of the non-fiction prose and letters.

The Crack-Up was originally published in book form while Fitzgerald was still alive, which may explain the somewhat odd selection. The obituaries collected at the end were added after his death for the 1945 edition.

Even with the flaws, The Crack-Up is still worth taking the time to read. Particularly if you are a fan of Fitzgerald, the bitter thought-provoking autobiographical essays provide a nice counterpoint to the exuberance of the novels. Aside from the title essay, "My Lost City" is particularly nice.

Fitzgerald arranged fragments of his writing notebooks into a series of conceptual categories for publication in this volume. These fragments serve as a very nice reminder just how good of a writer he really was. The combination of skilled turn of phrase and careful eye for detail is a powerful one. The journal section could serve as a very good lesson in observation for would-be writers of today.

Wilson himself notes that the letters included represent "merely a handful that happened to be easily obtainable". The most interesting letters are those written to his daughter and some of the letters that he received after the publication of the Great Gatsby. It is fascinating to read the reactions of Stein, Wharton and Eliot.

Time for a new edition of (at least) the collected letters?
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