A cute, short essay from the New Yorker.
An interesting little piece about Fitzgerald's Jewish assistant, a nice Jewish girl from the Bronx, Frances Kroll Ring who died this past June at the age of 99.
"As Kroll tells it, Fitzgerald displayed a great deal of curiosity about
Jewishness, pestering her about Jewish characteristics and customs. He
was fascinated by “the Passover feast” and the practice of keeping kosher.
After learning that Kroll’s father had emigrated from Russia at age
sixteen, he impulsively sent him a King James edition of the Old and New
Testaments, with a note that read “from a friend and colleague of your
"It would be nice to report that Fitzgerald eventually
rid himself of anti-Semitic feelings, but it wouldn’t be true. As Kroll
noted, nothing was simple with Scott. He was a man of insistent
contradictions; and with a few drinks under his belt, his darker and
more foolish side took over. When drunk, he could sing out “Lily Shiel”
and “She’s a Jew.” Or he might take Kroll aside and confide to her that
Graham was “part Jewish,” as though he and Kroll were in cahoots."
he wasn’t often drunk, not toward the end, and it’s entirely possible
that the company of Jewish women made Fitzgerald feel warmer toward Jews
"And though it was probably nothing more than a tic, he
apparently liked going to delicatessens, according to Graham, and
ordering knishes because he liked saying “knish.”
last word, however, should belong to Kroll, who, I suspect, would not
have put up with any anti-Semitic nonsense from him; nor would she have
remembered him quite so fondly had he exhibited a virulent bias toward
“My memory harbors a gentle man with a nearly collapsed
dream whose prevailing gift gave him the strength to keep doing what he
did best—to write.”