Books and Arts
December 22, 1941
Shirley Jackson died 48 years ago today. In her honor, her sharp-witted reflection on working retail, as originally published in The New Republic.
Recently, there appeared two items concerning H. L. Mencken, and I wish that somebody would explain them. Taken together, they don't make sense. Item I. The Modern Library has reprinted Scott Fitzgerald's best novel, The Great Gatsby. It is a book whose unique value has been overestimated by many people, including T. S. Eliot, Rebecca West and its own author, but nevertheless it is a fine piece of work, a sentimental poem to the Jazz Age that I was glad to reread in 1934: It hasn't staled or withered. The item about Mencken appears in the preface to the new edition.
The Oscars are odd. It’s just about the only reason left for having them; that and for the sake of the people who make red carpets. Every year when the nominations come out, there are three or four days of stories about the “surprises” and the people who were “snubbed.” So Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow were overlooked, but Michael Haneke was remarked on. And Helen Hunt got a supporting actress nod for The Sessions. No, I’m not suggesting that she was undeserving—far from it.