FitzFirst@Four is a monthly discussion group, focused on the short stories of F Scott Fitzgerald. It meets at 4:00pm on the first Sunday of every month at Common Good Books. Events are free and open to the public. The letters F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter, Scottie, are the topic of an upcoming FitzFirst@Four event. The letters’ connection to “the Gwen series” of magazine short stories Fitzgerald wrote about a teenage girl raised by a single father will be explored by Melissa Barker, a regular contributor to the FitzFirst series. Barker is a board member and officer of the nonprofit, Fitzgerald in Saint Paul.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s complete range of love and hope, bewilderment and parental consternation are on display in the letters he wrote to his daughter, Scottie, between 1928 and 1940. From an early set of postcards about “a man with three noses” sent to a then six-year old girl, to his advice on how to make friends at summer camp, to his concerns about the challenges of college life, the letters show Scott in a very different light than his usual public persona – in his role as an actively engaged parent. For example, in a letter to his daughter at summer camp, addressed “Dear Pie,” he encourages her to “Worry about courage, Worry about Cleanliness, … Worry about horsemanship,” and “Don't worry about popular opinion, Don't worry about the past, Don't worry about the future, Don't worry about growing up.”
The “Gwen series” is an often overlooked set of Fitzgerald short stories featuring two main characters, Gwen Bowers and her father Bryan, a widower raising his teenage daughter alone. The FitzFirst program will include a discussion of the first of the Gwen stories, “Too Cute for Words,” which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, in April, 1936. The story includes many references to contemporary pop culture icons, such as the teenager daughter’s passionate devotion to the movie, Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and the hit song “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” by Irving Berlin.