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I’ve been reading madly lately, and this was one of my favourite finds. Put out by Hesperus Press, who are one of my favourite publishers, it’s a lost volume of pieces written by F. Scott Fitgerald. They were written for magazine publication but were apparently hard to place and eventually ended up in a motoring magazine and haven’t been seen since, until rediscovered by Matthew J. Bruccoli, a Fitzgerald scholar who seems to have done much over the years to bring FSF’s shorter works back into the public eye. Kudos to him for making all these available!

Rolling Junk is a road tale of Scott and Zelda on a madcap drive to the South, the ostensible reason being that Zelda is missing Southern biscuits and peaches. This is obviously not a completely factual tale (the excellent introduction discusses the differences) but it is a wonderful read. It’s humourous and thoughtful and very entertaining – Scott takes on the role of fumbling, hopeless car owner, unable to fix anything on the vehicle and very much at the mercy of the many garages at which they have to stop as the Rolling Junk seems to be practically falling to bits.

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It’s also a fascinating tale for the glimpses of the American South in the early part of the 20th century, not so long after the Civil War and the ghosts of this conflict are still available. Even changes since Zelda had last visited move her to tears. There is hidden depth to this story and indications not only of what a great writer Scott would become but also of the tragic direction the Fitzgeralds’ life would take.

The only negative comment I can make is about an element which seems to turn up in quite a few introductions to Hesperus volumes – the necessity the publishers seem to feel to apologise for the fact that writers from 100 years ago are not always politically correct. I do find it insulting as a reader that I am not assumed to be intelligent or grown up enough to deal with this.

But I highly recomment this beautifully produced little book and thanks goodness Hesperus have made it available to us again.

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