On December 21, 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in the apartment of his young lover, the British Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham. Beethoven’s “Eroica” was playing from the phonograph. Graham was reading a book of music history. And Fitzgerald, an intermittently recovering alcoholic, was eating chocolate and studying football statistics in The Princeton Alumni Weekly. Then, his heart stopped beating. He fell to the ground in pain and was, shortly thereafter, pronounced dead. Twenty years after the publication of This Side of Paradise, which launched his short career as a literary celebrity, Fitzgerald died in obscurity as an unemployed Hollywood writer, “a prematurely old little man haunting bookstores unrecognized” (as his friend, John O’Hara, lamented. Another friend, the great Hollywood screenwriter Nathanael West, died the next day, in a car crash, possibly because...


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