I’d Die For You: And Other Lost Stories
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald did not design the stories in I’d Die For You as a collection. Most were submitted individually to major magazines during the 1930s and accepted for publication during Fitzgerald’s lifetime, but were never printed. Some were written as movie scenarios and sent to studios or producers, but not filmed. Others are stories that could not be sold because their subject matter or style departed from what editors expected of Fitzgerald. They date from the earliest days of Fitzgerald’s career to the last. They come from various sources, from libraries to private collections, including those of Fitzgerald’s family.
“I’d Die For You,” the collection’s title story, is drawn from Fitzgerald’s stays in the mountains of North Carolina when his health, and that of his wife Zelda, was falling apart. Most of these collected stories come from this time period, during the middle and late 1930s, though the collection spans Fitzgerald’s career from 1920 to the end of his life.
Some of the eighteen stories were physically lost, coming to light only in the past few years. All were lost, in one sense or another: lost in the painful shuffle of the difficulties of Fitzgerald’s life in the middle 1930s; lost to readers because contemporary editors did not understand or accept what he was trying to write; lost because archives are like that, and good things can wait patiently in libraries for many centuries sometimes.
The House of Memory: Reflections of Youth and War
By John Freely
The author of more than sixty books on Turkey, Greece, biographical figures, and the history of science, John Freely has now written an engaging, funny, and tender memoir of coming of age during the Depression and World War II that is by turns full of wonder, humor, and gratitude.
Born in Brooklyn to Irish immigrants, Freely went to Ireland with his mother when he was five years old. Western Ireland was impoverished by the times but rich in beauty and intriguing people, and it opened in him a lifelong desire to see the world and its inhabitants. When he was seven, he returned to Brooklyn, and the antics of an adolescent boy played out on streets filled with character and characters. He vividly recollects his childhood homes with surprising clarity and rich detail, capturing Brooklyn and Western Ireland in the 1920s through early 1940s.
Freely joined the US Navy when he was 17 years old, serving in the China/Burma/India theater during World War II. His was an unusual wartime experience—while bringing supplies and ammunition over the Stilwell-Burma Road to Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese guerrilla forces, he served alongside them during the last weeks of WWII in the Tibetan borderlands of China. It was a period of tragedy as well as growth, and is a satisfying read as you wander into Freely’s colorful and eventful past.
South and West: From a Notebook
By Joan Didion
You may have heard something of best-selling author Joan Didion’s newest book—both Time and The New York Times Book Review have named it as one of the most anticipated books for this year.
Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays, and articles. “South” refers to one such notebook that traces a road trip she took with her husband John Gregory Dunne in June 1970, through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. She interviews prominent local figures, describes motels, diners, a deserted reptile farm, a visit with Walker Percy, and a ladies’ brunch at the Mississippi Broadcasters’ Convention. She writes about the stifling heat, the almost viscous pace of life, the sulfurous light, and the preoccupation with race, class, and heritage she finds in the small towns they pass through.
“West” refers to the “California Notes” that began as an assignment from Rolling Stone on the Patty Hearst trial of 1976. Though Didion never wrote the piece, watching the trial and being in San Francisco triggered thoughts about the city, its social hierarchy, the Hearsts, and her own upbringing in Sacramento. Here is the beginning of her thinking about the West, its landscape, the western women who were heroic for her, and her own lineage (all of which would appear later in her acclaimed 2003 book, Where I Was From).
Cave Dwellers: A novel
By Richard Grant
It is late 1937 when the young Nazi lieutenant Oskar Langweil is recruited to the cause of overthrowing Adolf Hitler while attending a party at the lavish home of a baroness. Next, a high-ranking officer in Germany’s counterintelligence agency brings Oskar into the fold because of their mutual involvement in a patriotic youth league, and soon dispatches him to Washington, DC to seek support on a perilous mission. Despite his best efforts, Oskar is compromised and must immediately find a way to sneak back into Germany unnoticed.
A childhood friend introduces him to Lena, a Socialist and fellow ex-patriot, and they hatch a plan to have Oskar pose as her husband as they cross the Atlantic on a cruise ship filled with Nazis and fellow travelers. But bad luck follows them at every turn, and they find themselves messily entangled with the son of a US senator, a White Russian princess, a disgraced journalist, an aging brigadier, and a gay SS officer, becoming “the most wanted people in the Third Reich.”
This is a gripping novel of historical espionage about an eleventh-hour attempt by members of the German elite to unseat Hitler, and the endlessly complex consequences that ensue. Grant delivers a true spy thriller that is entertaining and deeply satisfying as the novel races toward its explosive conclusion.