Thanks for the Parody!
I hesitate to use the word “viral,” in describing the letter often shared across social networks by persons who love the power of language—This Side of Paradise: A Letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald Quarantined in the South of France. And who can blame our errors, with such paragraphs as this one— “You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball . . . the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.”The truth is . . . this letter was not crafted by a brooding F. Scott Fitzgerald from his Paris apartment during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, but by a fiction writer from New Jersey, Nick Farriella, in March 2020, for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. The letter is a parody, “an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.” Mr. Farriella does a beautiful job of imitation, showing attention to voice, use of language, and wit, re-creating Fitzgerald’s style, as described in literary analysis, as “a clear, lyrical, colorful, witty style, [which] evoked the emotions associated with time and place.”
I welcome the unintended consequence of my foolishness—my rediscovery of Fitzgerald. I will re-read The Great Gatsby for the first time since high school. And I will read his often anthologized personal essay, “The Crack Up.” I hope you will do the same, so we can discuss the essay in the upcoming four-week virtual workshop, beginning April 21. Read on!