This biography seems wildly relevant in a time when raw wealth has again taken on such an emblematic value. We’re awash in capital, but it flows only to the wealthiest among us, who often seem as useless as Tom Buchanan himself, described by Nick Carraway in Gatsby as ‘a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty’ with ‘arrogant eyes’ and ‘a cruel body, gruff and aggressive’ (this may remind you of someone). One is taken back to the brilliant early story ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’, which retains a mythic quality in its portrait of wealth run amok, a morality tale about the deadly consequences of greed. ‘This is where the United States ends,’ writes Fitzgerald in the story.The veiled Trump reference reminds me again that we seem to be living through the most temporally parochial era of our history.
More than any biographer before him, Brown reveals the degree to which Fitzgerald understood the politics of his era, and he positions him in the company of Progressive intellectuals, such as Randolph Bourne and Charles Beard, who understood that with massive waves of immigration from southern and eastern Europe, Ireland and elsewhere, the USA had begun to drift from its puritanical anchorage.Doesn't sound like today's Progressives.