THE LAST FLAPPER by George Zuckerman


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Defacing public monuments carries a stiff penalty, but writers can apparently abuse the legends of living or dead public figures with impunity simply by changing the names and revising a few minimal details of the known circumstances of the legendary lives. This purports to be the journal of Rannah O'Donnell, whose life and death blatantly suggest the late F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda. All this gall is divided into four parts--her madcap adolescence, her marriage to Davis O'Donnell after his first bestselling novels chronicling the manners and morals of youth in the '20's, her institutionalization as a psychotic after their years abroad, Davis' death in Hollywood and hers by fire. Harry Ingram is the Hemingwayed villain in their lives; Harry writes novels in short sentences and, although these outsell Davis' books, Harry harbors a lifelong spite against Davis, worries about his virility, takes up with boxers and bullfighters, and shoots himself in a Montana hunting lodge. A host of identifiables from a bygone literary scene turn up tarnished as Rannah sleeps around among the expatriates of the Lost Generation. The nadir of the novel is reached when Harry beds down the raddled Rannah during one of her furloughs from the funny farm. At no point is author Zuckerman equal to the legends he's plundered--today's obscenities emerge anachronistically from flapper era mouths and the sensitivity required of a man attempting to write as a woman is forever denied to someone who performs a roman a clef as if it were spelled roman a cleaver.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1969
Publisher: Little, Brown