Eleven years later, Fitzgerald would die of a heart attack, his body weakened by years of alcoholism. "A Short Autobiography" reads tragically now, of course, our take on Fitzgerald tempered by a host of things, not the least of which being a wide view of his reckless drinking and a grim understanding of the word "short" in the title. But in the late 1920s, moments from economic and not a little emotional collapse, the merry little essay must've tasted like the first of many drinks, Last Call being an unimaginable nuisance. The opening:
I first read "A Short Autobiography" in My Lost City: Personal Essays, 1920-1940, a terrific collection edited by James West, who assembled the book of autobiographical nonfiction that Fitzgerald had hoped to publish in the mid 1930s but was discouraged from doing so by his editor. West helpfully explains that the "Nathan" in the dedication was the drama critic Jean Nathan, and that the ingredients in Sazerac Cocktails are "absinthe, sugar, bitters, water, and whiskey." I might have to try one.
Photo of Fitzgerald in repose via Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald. Astonishingly, I couldn't a photo of him drinking.