Today I embark on my second trip to Minnesota thus far in 2018. This time I’m headed to St. Paul for work and am lucky enough to be able to stay through the weekend with my best gals, Roxy and Ash (mom and sis, respectively) to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday. We have dinner reservations with a friend I grew up with on Saturday night and I’m hoping to hit up the Walker Art Center, one of my favorite places in Minneapolis. Our Airbnb looks kinda crazy, it’s called the Artist’s Parlor and has about a million padded, upholstered chairs in the living room. Maybe we’ll experiment with absinthe while we are here. Always happy to have a kitchen and the place is only 3 minutes from a Trader Joe’s.
In deciding what to read on this trip, the first author who pops to mind when I think of St. Paul is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was born in St.Paul and lived there through his adolescent years. Too obvious? Yes, and that’s ok. I realized, although I own many of Fitzgerald’s works, I have only read The Great Gatsby. I have read a lot ABOUT Fitzgerald and his relationship with his wife Zelda Sayre, and recently watched the Amazon series, Z: The Beginning of Everything, with Christina Ricci portraying Zelda (I thought she was great in this role), which sadly was not renewed for a second season. In addition, I have read a lot of Zelda’s writing too. However, The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it a handful of times and watched all movie renditions. So why, have I never completed another one of his books? I know I have started them, never to complete. Why do I own so many? I’m guessing it has to do with the Fitzgerald’s celebrity, their life story being so juicy in and of itself, without any need to embellish in a fictionalized tale and it would be hard to read any of Fitzgerald’s works without picturing it autobiographically. I’m not into that idea and yet, I’ll try.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first book, This Side of Paradise, published in 1920 when he was only 24, was a great success. I was thinking I’d take this one with me and perhaps start a chronological journey through Fitzgerald’s writing. However, that happens to be one I don’t own, and I won’t get it in time from the library. Instead, I’ll take with me The Beautiful and The Damned, about the troubled marriage of Anthony and Gloria Patch. I’m going to take West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan, which is a fictionalized account of Fitzgerald’s time as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Additionally, on the list to go on this trip is a memoir titled A.D. by Kate Millett. The title character, A.D. or Aunt Dorothy, was Millett’s aunt and a society figure in St. Paul. I snagged a copy at a thrift store in Bismarck, ND and have been hanging on to it for this trip.
I just found out that the 2008 film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an adaptation of a Fitzgerald short story of the same name! I had no idea!
The friend we are meeting for dinner on Saturday gave me a recommendation for Rain Taxi, whose mission statement is, “Rain Taxi champions aesthetically adventurous literature.” They have gobs of book reviews on their website and looks like a pretty great organization. They publish a print journal as well as working in the community.
Minneapolis/St Paul publishers to watch: