by Robert WestbrookI know the story of Sheilah Graham and Scott Fitzgerald. I read her book, BELOVED INFIDEL, as a teenager...I was raised by a Zelda Cultist, and we read everything we could get our hands on. We had mixed feelings about Graham...
From the git-go this book made me uncomfortable. The author is Graham's son...digging into her most intimate lies...and truths...and affairs. EEK! I know I don't want to investigate my family that deeply; but I applaud his efforts to tell the truth.
Robert Westbrook does a good job of showing both sides, and showing that in many ways their relationship was its own kind of toxic. Certainly Graham, in our modern words, was the enabler. But, like many others, she was in love and hoped she could 'save' or 'change' her lover. We know now that won't happen.
This is Fitzgerald at his most pathetic...broke, desperate for money, and desperate for the adulation he once enjoyed. He watches Hemingway, the author he championed in Paris, surpass him in every way. He tries to write hack scripts, only to have jobs taken away. He has to support a wife in an expensive hospital, and a daughter in an expensive school. He's been forgotten. And he is drinking himself to death.
At first, he seems charming to Graham...she has her own set of issues...the lies she has told for so long. The most poignant passages in the book are Westbrook's depiction of his mother's childhood struggles. She truly DID triumph over odds that would have daunted a lesser person. She did what she had to do in order to survive. Always, forever. She lied, she married for comfort, she slept her way to the top if that would work...she was in over her head so many times...and yet...she survived. And she found her voice and her place...and she succeeded as a mother.
I kept seeing parallels to PYGMALION in the relationship between Fitzgerald and Graham...once he knew the truth, I think he wanted to make her over...but they neither of them realized SHE was the strong one, the survivor.
Hollywood ate Fitzgerald up and spit him out. He had outgrown his popularity, his usefulness. "There are no second acts," he said. But I disagree. Sheilah would disagree too. We're in charge of our own second acts. What we do and what we say have consequences. After his sudden death in her living room, Graham DID have her second act. She found courage to get what she wanted, and she made a life for herself.
The epilogue, with its portrait of Graham near her own death, is the Graham none of the rest of us knew...This was the gift of the son to the world...a woman writing articles in her head until the last.
|eBook format||Hardcover, (torrent)|
|File size||2.8 Mb|
|Book rating||4.07 (28 votes)