Just got this photo from the day of filming at the Fitzgerald home in Westport.
I’m pleased to announce that I’m one of this year’s Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest winners for my short story, Twelve Miles — 48 Stops.
This is gratifying because F. Scott Fitzgerald was so closely associated with this publication. As many of you know, I’m working on a film about his time in my home town of Westport, CT. Getting published by the Saturday Evening Post as I’m knee deep in Fitzgerald footage feels karmic, as if there’s some sort of Mojo happening.
The title represents the distance traveled by a young African-American girl to work each day to the A&P where she works at a cash register. The idea came from shopping at my local Stop & Shop where most of the workers, black, come by bus from Bridgeport–most of the customers are white and live in Westport. It took years to find a way to write this story without it feeling preachy or contrived.
An early version bounced around for years, and then after seeing the documentary film Ten Feet From Stardom, I figured out what needed doing.
Davida, the young girl in the story, was inspired by a remarkable woman who I used to work with. She showed her kids my story, using it to start the discussion on how things were when she was growing up. I can think of no better impact for a story.
And so as 2013 comes to an end, I’m very grateful for all the good things that happened this year.
Thanks so much for visiting and reading. Happy Holidays.
Just returned from an academic conference in Montgomery, hosted by the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. I was there with my documentary partner, Deej, to film and present our Westport Fitzgerald thesis to scholars from around the world.
About 175 Fitzgerald fanatics attended the four-day event, comprised mostly of academics who have dedicated their life to the study and teaching of one America’s greatest novelists.
Our objective was to interview experts on Scott’s early years and The Great Gatsby to ask about Westport’s impact on the Fitzgerald’s writing (Zelda wrote a novel called Save Me the Waltz.
The society and the folks from Troy University in Montgomery were very helpful. In the thirty-six hours we were down there, we got to speak to several leading scholars including the noteworthy German professor, Herr Docktor Horst Kruse of the University of Muenster, who has dedicated the better part of sixty years to the study of Fitzgerald and his writing.
I won’t spoil the narrative as to what we learned, but I can tell you that these people know the Fitzgeralds and the world they inhabited and it was inspiring to be around such passionate people. We came to the right event for our film!
Although our depth of knowledge of Fitzgerald’s work, friends and that era pale in comparison, we knew enough to feel at home.
Saturday night we took a riverboat down the Alabama River with the Fitzgerald devotees. The boat was packed and we ended up at a table with a couple celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary. Besides being Fitzgerald aficionados, Aileen and Elkin Thomas were in Leonard Cohen’s band when he played that famous Isle of White concert (also on the bill: Jimi Hendrix, The Who). Over the years the Thomas’s had their own musical career as well playing with such greats as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs and Waylon Jennings.
Deej and I continue to be amazed at where this Fitzgerald documentary takes us.
More on Montgomery later this week.
In 1920 Zelda told Scott she was homesick and had a serious hankering for biscuits and peaches. At the time they were living in Westport, CT. Scott suggested they drive down and surprise her parents. Not an easy jaunt even today, but imagine what the roads were like back in those days. No AAA to bail you out when the car conked out. Few service stations along the way either. Scott wrote about the adventure in a short story called The Cruise of the Rolling Junk.
My partner in crime and I are making the same trip, albiet by airplane for the Fitzgerald Society Conference. We’re presenting our thesis about Westport’s role in Scott’s writing. Should be lots of fun, but we’re both a bit antsy given that the conference is attended by academics, folks that have dedicated their lives to the study of Fitzgerald. We’ve hired a film crew and we’ll be capturing all the thrills and chills along the way.