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The Synchronicity of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Matt Schudel

I had meant to post this blog item last Saturday, but I was too busy writing the obituary of ABC sportscaster Jim McKay.

But, on the dubious theory that it's better late than never, I wanted to point out the odd occurrence of having two articles in The Post about F. Scott Fitzgerald on the same day. On Saturday, my obituary of University of South Carolina scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli, who was undoubtedly the country's leading authority on Fitzgerald, ran in the paper and online. I didn't realize it until I opened the paper on Saturday, but critic Jonathan Yardley, in one of his "Second Reading" columns, had a lovely essay about Andrew Turnbull's biography of Fitzgerald, written in 1962.

As it happens, I quoted Yardley -- my first mentor in journalism, but that's another story -- in my obituary of Bruccoli, and not to Bruccoli's credit. Yardley wrote in 1981 that Bruccoli "has been accused in various quarters of being the impresario behind a 'Fitzgerald industry.' The charge is not without merit, especially as it applies to his eagerness to edit and publish any scrap of Fitzgeraldiana, no matter how trivial."

I don't disagree with Yardley's point, but Bruccoli was nonetheless an important force in scholarship, and his contributions to our understanding of the greatest generation of American writers cannot be denied. Bruccoli wrote or edited more than 60 books that explore the lives and works of Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, John O'Hara and other writers, and he singlehandedly made the University of South Carolina a major repository of writers' papers and documents.

It's curious to note that the death of Jim McKay was all over the news on television, and our online editors were pushing me Saturday to finish the obit and get it on the Web.

One day earlier, no one at the paper asked me about Bruccoli, who wasn't widely known outside the world of literature, and whose death passed unnoticed by every TV network and most papers. But I've already received many comments from people who knew him and his work and who were glad the Post took time to do an original obituary. Not one person has written to me about the much more famous Jim McKay.

By Matt Schudel  |  June 10, 2008; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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