Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Inspiration 1: Careless People

Every Friday I'm sharing something I read, watched, listened to, or inspired me during the week.

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell (Amazon link here) really opened my eyes about the social climate in and around New York during the 1920's.
Careless People by Sarah Churchwell. Published by Penguin Press HC 2014.
Sure, I've studied American history and have a basic understanding of the overall world politics, economic structure in America, and changes taking place in the twenties, but this book honed in on the Fitzgeralds' seemingly charmed lives for a brief period of time. Ms. Churchwell focused on the comings and goings of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda from 1922 to 1925 and how the parties, newspaper headlines, and their friends influenced The Great Gatsby.

I've read The Great Gatsby four or five times before (I love the book), but after soaking in the rich details and history in Careless People, I had to read Fitzgerald's book again. My fresh perspective helped me gain insight I'd previously overlooked.

Ms. Churchwell showed me 1922 through Fitzgerald's eyes. How old money differed from new money. How murders were sensationalized, covered up, and not handled professionally by the police.

The Great Gatsby could be set today and still make complete sense.

If you're interested in the twenties, New York, or Fitzgerald, read Careless People. It's excellent!

What inspired you this week?

Have a terrific weekend!


  1. Interesting topic. I tend to have a rather violent intolerance for carelessness, and when I read "Gatsby" my feelings were reinforced.

    It had a ripple effect - for awhile I owned an airplane from the 20s, and was restoring it...but the social milieu that surrounded aviation in those days was really bothersome to me, and as I got further into a quest for authenticity, I found I was being puled into a time that I really didn't like.

    So I sold the thing. I don't regret it. Had a chance to fly one, and it handled like a pig.

    My inspiration this week has Been Geoffrey Wellum's "First Light", his memoir about his experiences training to fly in the Royal Air Force, and serving through the Battle of Britain in 1940. His descriptions of flight are lyrical, and the word-sketches of the men with whom he flew bring them to life. Most are dead now; Wellum is one of the few who still live.

    It's a counterpoint to carelessness. These young men faced death daily, and they were willing to die for honor, decency, and fair play. They cared (though, in the flippant attitude most adopted, they would have been the last to admit it!).

  2. I don't like carelessness either, Andrew. And I don't like that some celebrities get away with so much of it--which is just like Gatsby. Thanks for sharing "First Light." It sounds wonderful! I love books like that!


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