Friday, August 8, 2008

Scott Fitzgerald

Well, I'm here in the land of F. Scott Fitzgerald -- every day, we literally walk where he walked -- but always thinking of the true City. I am not a great reader of Fitzgerald (I prefer Hemingway, who makes quite a sight of Fitzgerald in his urban memoirs, of Paris, A Moveable Feast), but I do love this quote, which I just came across, on the Empire State Building:

Full of vaunting pride the New Yorker had climbed here and seen with dismay what he had never suspected, that the city was not the endless succession of canyons that he had supposed but that it had limits—from the tallest structure he saw for the first time that it faded out into the country on all sides, into an expanse of green and blue that alone was limitless. And with the awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe, the whole shining edifice that he had reared in his imagination came crashing to the ground. - My Lost City

To me, this evokes, in that beautiful '20s language (sinking in Roosevelt's morass), so much of urban life at its best, from the proximity to the countryside, to the provincialism, to the romance, wistfulness, and frank melancholy. Wonder if these St. Paul bookstores carry the less famous books of our most famous son.