March 21, 2009

The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Selection of Twenty-Eight Stories with an Introduction by Malcolm Crowley

Pertinence – The teacher and writer Mark Wukas gave me this book about 15 years ago and re-reading these superb stories during the past few weeks (as the stock market plummets, as dreams crash, as worries mount but life, as always, keeps marching forward with joy and zest and sorrow and pity) I have realized that “pertinence” is an essential ingredient in great writing. I don’t necessarily mean the pertinence of current events – though the relevance of these stories written a lifetime ago to what’s happening today is uncanny; rather, I am thinking of the role pertinence plays in choosing the telling gesture (in “The Lost Decade,” how Orrison “felt suddenly of the texture of his own coat and then he reached out and pressed his thumb against the granite of the building by his side”), the keen poetic observation (when John Andros in “The Baby Party” reflects, “The dark trumpets of oblivion were less loud at the patter of his child’s feet or at the sound of his child’s voice babbling mad non sequiturs to him over the telephone”) and the concrete detail (in “Crazy Sunday,” when Joel Coles “saw Stella’s fresh boyish face, with the tired eyelid that always drooped a little over one eye, moving about among her guests and he wanted to sit with her and talk a long time as if she were a girl instead of a name; he followed her to see if she paid anyone as much attention as she had paid him.”) The pertinence, too, of this wonderful gift Mark Wukas presented to me a while back remains strong, as well. We learn from our friendships, near and far, and we renew ourselves through our relationships and the stories we share.


Anonymous Mark said...

The gift was well placed...

July 01, 2009  

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