It takes a lot of courage for an author to write a fictional book about a writer who’s almost as famous for his life as for his novels. Stewart O’Nan meets the challenge with West of Sunset, a novel about F. Scott Fitzgerald. In O’Nan’s imaginings we’re shown a depth, intelligence, and artistic struggle that meshes beautifully with the outlines of Fitzgerald’s life that his fans know so well.
The 2015 novel is a fictionalized account of the last three years of the famous author’s life. In the opening chapter, the forty-year-old Fitzgerald is no longer the golden boy of the literary set. In poor health and financially strapped, he’s about to leave the East Coast for Hollywood to work as a script-writing hack for MGM.