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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Text Message from San Francisco

posted by on January 13 at 11:19 AM

Walking down Valencia Street yesterday, I saw something in a storefront window. I stopped and read it. It happens to be something I’ve read dozens of times, maybe a hundred. It was photocopied from a book and enlarged into a huge sort of poster, the letters fuzzy and weird. It was the first paragraph of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s post-meltdown autobiographical essay “The Crack-Up.”

Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work—the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside—the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don’t show their effect all at once. There is another sort of blow that comes from within—that you don’t feel until it’s too late to do anything about it, until you realize with finality that in some regard you will never be as good a man again. The first sort of breakage seems to happen quick—the second kind happens almost without your knowing it but is realized suddenly indeed.

Sorry I didn’t think to take a picture. This was in the window of this gallery. The person who just answered the phone there says it was part of a piece by the artist Adam McEwen. Everything you need to know about writing—and everything you need to know about life—is in that paragraph.

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This reminds me of why I love F. Scott Fitzgerald with all of my heart. Thank you.

Posted by Lola | January 13, 2007 2:15 PM

Oh, the Jack Hanley! I don't stop by near as often as I should, considering that it's in my neighborhood.
Hope you're having a great time here! Bundle up!

Posted by Dee in SF | January 13, 2007 4:07 PM

Bundle up? Dee, I just got home to Seattle, where it's about 75 degrees below freezing. By comparison, the weather in San Francisco -- you're right, it was colder than I've ever known it to get in San Francisco -- was sweltering.

The world is truly ending.

Posted by christopher Frizzelle | January 13, 2007 6:14 PM

I have a question: why do people say/write things like: "Everything you need to know about writing—and everything you need to know about life—is in that paragraph." It is a patently untrue statement. And what's more, the writer knows it's not really true, and the reader knows it's not really true. Moreover, it is meant to be read knowing that the writer does not mean it in earnest. So why bother writing it? I am genuinely curious.

Posted by Matt | January 13, 2007 9:15 PM

hmm, Matt has a point.

Posted by Jude Fawley | January 14, 2007 3:52 AM

Just a block and a half from my house, I've never noticed this place?

And... uh, what what? How will I recognize this massive blow if it doesn't show it's affect all at once? I am a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald's, who is a million times the writer I could be, but really, this is Myspace-blog level stuff here.

Posted by Dougsf | January 14, 2007 7:16 PM

I'm with Matt.

Posted by charles | January 15, 2007 12:13 AM


Posted by Julia Bovee | January 15, 2007 3:21 AM

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