Friday, February 3, 2017

Z: The Beginning of Everything: Yes Indeed!

I'm always up for a series about writers - one of the reasons I'm a fan of The Affair - and you can't ask for anything more on that score that the early part of the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, done up in ten 30-minute episodes on Amazon.

The writer part of the story is the centerpiece - F. Scott's mostly boundless confidence in his talent and success, Zelda's contribution - not only in terms of believing in Scott but literally providing him with some of his best lines - Scott's dealings with his publisher, critics, and other writers, is just superb.   I had no idea that the line "blowsy clean" in his second novel - and the riff on the difference between that kind of wind-swept clean that you find on the beach, in contrast to what happens when you scrub a frying pan - came from Zelda's part of a conversation.

The two shared everything - from words to gin to the Roaring Twenties Jazz Age zest for life, which they had a large hand in creating, or at least mining and miming every day.  Zelda's happy to strip naked on their wedding night and stand in the open doorway of their bedroom in the Biltmore in New York because Scott is tarrying too long with his friends in the parlor. Scott is a man ahead of his time, pleased to let Zelda drive their car, but when she hits a deer that proverbially came out of nowhere, he reverts to berating her in classic 20th-century-man fashion.

And what a car!  And whether it's a Model whatever Ford, or a plush train, or a Firestone car that they take from New York City to Princeton, the two delight in the new world that is coming into being, with their frivolous, outrageous, profound assistance.  And all the while we know this:  as Scott struggles with his genius, and doubts his ability just once in a while to get the world to recognize it, as Zelda inspires him even she's not trying to do that, we know from our vantage point here in the 21st century that both succeeded, if not beyond their wildest dreams, at least beyond the down-time qualms that all great dreamers and creators are prone to have on occasion.

Christina Ricci as Zelda and David  Hoflin as Scott are outstanding - looking and behaving, as someone famous in the 1920s said of the real Fitzgeralds, as if they'd just come out of the sun.  The music's fine, too, with an early or retro-recording of "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" at the end of one of the episodes that I hadn't heard before.

Indeed, my only regret about Z: The Beginning of Everything is that Scott and Zelda can't via some science fictional magic (hey, he wrote "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") watch and enjoy it. They would have quickly understood and come to appreciate and utilize Amazon and the Internet and blogging of course television (which is just radio with pictures), and even though Scott was a little uncomfortable with the attention Zelda received for her writing talent, the two would have laughed their drunken assess off at this series and loved it.

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