Book Review: The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

From the book’s description:

Unfinished at the time of his death, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon is a story of doomed love set against the extravagance of America’s booming film industry. The studio lot looks like ‘thirty acres of fairyland’ the night that a mysterious woman stands and smiles at Monroe Stahr, the last of the great Hollywood princes. Enchanted by one another, they begin a passionate but hopeless love affair, starting with a fast-moving seduction as slick as a scene from one of Stahr’s pictures. The romance unfolds, frame by frame, watched by Cecilia, a thoroughly modern girl who has taken her lessons in sentiment and cynicism from all the movies she has seen. Her buoyant humor and satirical eye perfectly complement Fitzgerald’s panorama of Hollywood at its most lavish and bewitching.

If the great Francis Scott Fitzgerald would have finished writing this novel, it would have been his masterpiece. Yes, it would have been better than The Great Gatsby, which is my favorite novel of all time, and the only piece of writing I’ve been reading once a year since I was seventeen. Besides Dune.

Anyway, I do have to admit that enamored as I am with Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, I cannot say the same about his other works. His short stories lack substance, and his novels are beautiful but not as interesting as I’d like them to be.

But both the Great Gatsby and The Last Tycoon have something different… there’s a real story there, there’s something the author felt strongly about, strong enough to create a universe. A genuine universe that seems to exist in and of itself, without need of anything but a reader.

“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.”

With the exception of Jay Gatsby, Monroe Stahr is Fitzgerald’s best character.

And that love story… I shouldn’t call it a love story. It’s something else. It’s tragic in a non-Shakespearean way. A different flavor of tragic. It feels like that from the moment Monroe falls in love.

I wish Fitzgerald would have finished writing this novel. It would have been one of the great masterpieces of the last century.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. You should re-read This Side of Paradise. It’s a pretty good novel written when FSF was in his early twenties. The Beautiful and Damned could have used some editing, but,after the success of Fitzgerald’s first novel, Max Perkins gave him a long leash. Tender is the Night is no slouch either. Though many of his short stories were revenue generating works, the writing always shows the unmistakable signs of a great writer, even when pandering to his magazine editors. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of The Great Gatsby. About as perfect as fiction can get. Who knows if his unfinished novel would have topped it? So we beat on, boats against the current…

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