The Boy Who Talked Through Books

16 Feb

Silly ass emo-post coming. I am so goddamn exhausted it’s a wonder I’m not flooding the world with these right now, but I’ll keep ‘em to a minimum, promise.

Well over a year ago–wait, no it was two!–I did a post about visiting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave. There’s a very brief mention there of me leaving him a thank you note, but I don’t think I talked about what I was thanking him for. So this is it:

Liam is the boy who talks through books. He’s introverted and–not a loner, because he has his best friend and his brothers, and that’s all he’s ever needed. He’s bad at feelings, because, you know. He’s 20 and fairly repressed. The way he connects to the world, the easiest way to get him to empathize or understand, is through literary analogy. He does it to himself fairly often.

F. Scott Fitzgerald comes up a lot.

I watched him until he faded into the dark, wondering if this goddamn uncomfortable mixed-up feeling made me the resentful, admiring Nick Carraway to his effortless, romantic Jay Gatsby.

Pretty standard Liamthought, there. After a particularly heady evening:

Jesus, that was the kind of night you read about in books full of champagne and jazz and rich kids with nothing better to do than fuck each other in every way imaginable. My Great Gatsby analogy coming back to haunt me.

That’s what you get for making shit literary references, Liam. Way to go.

And Gianni, being a clever bastard, picks up on this and starts doing it for him.

Gianni went on, “It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I did very well, in spite of my name.” I didn’t get his meaning, so I made a face. “You don’t see many Italian names in an F. Scott Fitzgerald book, do you? Poor and savage—not precisely Ivy League material. Not that the years have changed things that much.”

My old Gatsby analogy strikes again. I grinned.

“The respectable WASPs—even the rich Irish Catholic boys, few though they were—couldn’t abide us, though we were just as American as their own brats.” His smile suggested the memories weren’t unhappy, for all that. “But I was smart, charming, and most importantly, rich enough that they couldn’t often get away with calling me a dirty little wop in polite society. Not so long as I stayed away from their sisters, daughters, and wives.”

I grinned, imagining that he didn’t generally oblige them on that point.

“I was a bit of a novelty, in a penny dreadful way. Boys fought over who would be my friend.” There, he started to smirk. “I had a lot of fun, when I wasn’t being bored to death.”

“But?”

“Such a ridiculous little world. I hated it.”

“No Long Island girls and Harvard boys?”

“Not even lazy, good-looking, aristocratic Princeton could tempt me.”

His tone spoke of quotation, so I asked, “What’s that from?”

This Side of Paradise.” More smirking, a little more smug.

I loved when he did that to me. I was never sure if that was because it fed my ego that he went out of his way to speak my language, or if it was just that his brain was generally sexy.

Probably a little of both. I gave him his point, anyhow: “Haven’t read that one.”

“You had better. I think it’s about you in a past life.”

There are a lot of other occurrences of this kind of thing, but the FSF thread continues all the way to the end. (That bit right there is about in the middle.) It’s perfect common ground, since Gianni is a product of the Jazz Age himself. The Gatsby analogies were in early drafts, but the thread stopped there; only with those last few did it make it all the way through to This Side of Paradise and tie it up for me.

Or maybe it tied them up, since this scene is probably the first where they come to a real understanding.

So the note I left at the grave that first time said thank you for the awesome books, of course. And then I said thank you for tying up mine, because I couldn’t do it on my own. I tried for ten years, believe me.

I don’t know, but the first place I sent Liam after that was Belfire. And. Wahey. It’s a thing. So FSF is the unofficial patron saint, and I don’t care how fucking silly it is, because I like it. (And so does Liam. Hell, even G approves, and he is not a fan of saints, god knows.)

So today while I was in Rockville I stopped by to visit again. I didn’t write another note. Like dude has time for my notes–if there’s an afterlife he’s sitting in a hot tub drinking Dom Perignon from a coupe glass and fighting eternally with Zelda. But you know. Had to be done.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's grave, St. Mary's, Rockville

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