in a hotel with half-assed wifi, my thoughts turn to F. Scott Fitzgerald

Apropos of nothing, I have always liked this ever since I read it in the Book of Lists when I was too young to really understand a lot of it. Some of it I still don’t understand. You can read the almost-full letter over at the New York Times, and you can read what was elided from that at the original source via Google Books. The parts that are removed explain why he is threatening to assault the White Cat and let her know he will “arrange the camp bill”

Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship…

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?

How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful intrument or am I neglecting it?

What do you think?


  1. The Book of Lists/ Peoples Almanac amalgamation is my favorite. Some content not only breezed over my head as a kid, it scared me witless; but I learned that information is powerful, sometimes scary. Scholarship, on the other hand, is overrated. Scholarship is for the birds.

  2. now that you mention it, my horsemanship could use some improving.

  3. The Book of Lists. Oh joy. Treasures and wonders and sophistication….well at least that’s what I thought when I devoured it 23 times over and over as a kid. I still remember “the skunk rolled down a hill and fractured his larynx” which is a translation of one of the hardest tongue twisters. From the BOL 2??

    Oh..and the memorial to the Boll Weavil. And those people with a twin’s head growing out of their forehead. And the islands for sale. And the wonders of Anais Nin. And Ben Franklin’s fetish for older women. And people who died during sex. And the superlong palindrome with all those names. And that picture of the person eating an arm.