Keith Gessen on Fitzgerald: Defending A Title
Keith Gessen is editor-in-chief of n+1, a twice-yearly magazine of literature, politics, and culture based in New York City.
Gessen graduated from Harvard College and earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University in 2004. Gessen, who was born in Russia, has written about Russia for The Atlantic and the New York Review of Books. Gessen has also written about books for magazines including Dissent, Slate, and New York, where he was the regular book critic.
His first novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men, was published in April 2008.
Question: How did you summon the courage to use Fitzgerald's title for your book?
Keith Gessen: You know, I’ve been puzzled by this reaction to the title because it seems to me to be so clearly a joke- right? Fitzgerald wrote these very beautiful stories that I love- they’re very sentimental. And, you know, very sharp- they’re great. The Rich Boys is one of my favorite stories of all time- Winter Dreams- it’s a great story. You know, so- and he called his book with a slightly sentimental title: All The Sad Young Men. When you add the word literary, it seems very clearly to be a joke- All The Sad Young Literary Men- that’s not sentimental, that’s funny, I thought. So, now did I desecrate F. Scott Fitzgerald? Maybe. And I apologize, but I certainly, I certainly meant it in a satiric vein.
Gessen's title harks back to a work by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and some readers aren't pleased.
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