The Concluding Words

Yesterday we attended my wife’s aunt’s funeral. She was my mother’s-in-law’s older sister and died a few days before Christmas. My mother-in-law herself died back in early October… so they both left this earth at about the same time.

She almost made it to age 92. She and my wife’s uncle (he died in 2016) had owned a couple of pubs in north London. When she was 18, my future wife had “pulled pints” in her aunt’s pub as her first job.

Listening to what was said by the priest much as is always said at such gatherings – about this being the end of her mortal life, and how we shall all remember her, and so on, led me after we got home to reopen and finally finish this last night…

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s posthumously published The Last Tycoon is not very long – because it is unfinished. At only 129 pages, it is possible to read the whole thing in a sitting or two. However, I did not.

Frankly, I dawdled over it for weeks as I read it – reading only sometimes a few pages at a time – because I did NOT want to finish it.

After all, once you finish it that is all there is and all there will ever be from him. This is his last manuscript page and concluding line…

[The “conclusion” of The Last Tycoon, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1940.]

Fitzgerald’s further extensive planned story notes and outline (if you want to write, I suggest you BUY that copy of Tycoon; you see in it how he outlined and prepped a novel) indicate it was probably going to end up being his longest novel yet. From just what exists it is easy to feel it would have been an INCREDIBLE book had he finished it. It might even have been better than Gatsby

…but we will never read it as a finished effort because he died of a heart attack at only age 44 in December 1940. Since then others have sought to fill out what he had intended to write in Tycoon (a close friend did the best he could and had it published in 1941 – his was the first try). Yet even what there is of Fitzgerald’s novel is still considered probably the best novel ever about Hollywood. (And the irony of among his last writing to have also been the line “I was drunk” is hard to overlook – considering Fitzgerald admitted he had become an alcoholic in college.)

Which I guess leads me here. The major reason I have not been posting on here much in recent weeks is because as you may know I have been doing last revisions of my – now (I know, I know, but I refuse to hurry it) overdue – novel…

[From Capture The Cause proof. Photo by me, January, 2022.]

Thinking of all that above, for this post I just had a look at its last line – that will almost certainly NOT be changed. Because it does not really give anything away in spoiler terms, I thought I would share it here:

[From Capture The Cause proof. Photo by me, January 21, 2022.]

If you have read the (two) previous novel(s), you may be able to offer a pretty good guess even now as to the identity there of “she” who is closing that box. I don’t recall when I wrote that, but it was many months ago. (I always write a novel’s conclusion nearly at the outset so I know where I am ultimately going.) It was not as I recall really meant to be overt “death” symbolism nearly as much as simply me “closing the book” on the tale, yet I see now how “death” may be seen in those words, too.

If we think we can gauge what a writer is thinking, speaking as one I can say that is not necessarily the case. Sometimes we ourselves don’t even know what we were thinking at that moment! What matters the most is how we as readers read what is written and what we as readers take away from that writing – because once we own the book it no longer “belongs” to the author, it belongs to us.

Deep stuff for a Friday, I guess. With that, I am back now to more proofreading and corrections. Have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂