Letters of Life

The Strokes of F Scott Fitzgerald

The American writer F Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, apparently once said, “You can stroke people with words.”

That, Fitzgerald definitely did that in The Great Gatsby, a glittering cinematic story of New York’s Jazz Age (the 1920s), and the book, which was made into a movie starring Robert Redford as Gatsby, is noted as one of the Great American Novels of all time.

He had such a way with not just words, but creating characters and putting words into their mouths, painting their thoughts on the page, which made me sigh in wonder, they were so beautiful. Behind the shades and hues of meaning lie a yearning for something just a little beyond reach.

Like this.

Later she remembered all the hours of the afternoon as happy — one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure, but turn out to have been the pleasure itself. (The Great Gatsby)

It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.

And lastly from that period I remember riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again.

Look at that,’ she whispered, and then after a moment: ‘I’d like to just get one of those pink clouds and put you in it and push you around.

One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or of the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.

Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. (From The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)


For fans of this great American novelist, you can read a subsequent post about Fitzgerald written more recently here, The Wisdom of F Scott Fitzgerald. 




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4 Responses »

  1. hey yu ming, his words are so beautiful put together! Do you have his books? May I borrow one?

  2. The Great Gatsby is truly a masterpiece by Fitzgerald. Do read his other books; Tender is the Night and This side of paradise.

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