Is anything so tantalizing as the discovery of lost manuscripts by a well-known and beloved author?
In I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories (Scribner, 2017), Anne Margaret Daniel gives the reader the opportunity to discover unpublished—or in the case of two stories, only recently published—short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The collection contains fifteen stories and three synopses for screenplays. Most of the stories were submitted to and rejected by the major magazines of the 1920s and 30s: The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, and Collier’s. Sometimes the stories were rejected because the material was darker than the usual Fitzgerald fare; sometimes the rejection was due to the quality of the story itself.
Many of the stories leave little doubt why they were rejected. Plots are implausible, even peculiar, and too often center around a love story that is underdeveloped and, therefore, too hard to believe. Fitzgerald acknowledged this fact in 1939: “I was tagged with [writing about young love] by my first writings up to 1925. Since then I have written stories about young love. They have been done with increasing difficulty and increasing insincerity.”
The collection does contain a few bright spots, and perhaps not surprisingly the stories were written earlier in Fitzgerald’s career. “The I.O.U.” provides amusing twists and turns in a fast-paced narrative. The brief vignette “Thank You for the Light,” which was originally rejected by The New Yorker in the 1920s but published by the magazine in 2012, is a delightful, slightly irreverent tale. The title story, “I’d Die for You,” though not without flaws, is an entertaining story of intrigue and love gone awry. Perhaps just as interesting as the stories in the collection are Ms. Daniel’s headnotes to each story, as they place the story into the context of Fitzgerald’s life events as well as his sometimes desperate attempts to publish stories and earn income. The head notes alone make I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories worth the read.
For pricing, formats, and more information about I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Anne Margaret Daniel, visit Simon & Schuster.