“The Last Tycoon” was the unfinished novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald – he died while writing it. This text is the unfinished manuscript – it ends, quite abruptly, with a note that says “The manuscript ends here.”
Following that is a synopsis of how the story was supposed to end, based on notes, outlines, and discussion with people that Fitzgerald talked to about it. The story after the novel cuts off is pretty compelling, and would have sent the characters in directions I could never have predicted.
The story, as it is, is rough, and it’s clear that it hadn’t been edited. Some passages are jarring and would have clearly been smoothed out, and there is a drastic difference in chapter length. One chapter in the middle must have been 3x longer than any other. I’m quite sure that a good editor would have homogenized the book quite a bit.
My feelings on the book can’t be separated from “The Last Tycoon” TV show that Amazon ran for one season, starring Matt Bomer, Lili Collins, and Kelsey Grammar. I had never heard of the novel until that show, and watching that was the reason I wanted to read the novel. Given the unfinished condition of the novel, that show was wildly speculative, but still wonderful to watch.
I’ll state the truth: the only reason I enjoyed this novel is because of the good feelings cast on it from the TV show. The novel as it sits is fragmentary and rough and would have been awful if not for the sympathy and dream of what might have been.
F. Scott Fitzgerald