Literature

Beth Navarro

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of "The Great Gatsby" – the height of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary fame. But a new novel suggests that some of Fitzgerald’s best work came much later, at a time of loss and personal struggle.

Carl Van Vechten / Wikipedia

In his latest novel "West of Sunset," author Stewart O’Nan chronicles F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final years as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Pittsburgh author Stewart O’Nan joins us in Studio A to discuss his work.

O'Nan says that, despite Fitzgerald's fame and the spectacle of Hollywood in the 1930s, we don't know very much about the author's time as a screenwriter.

"He's a legendary character and he's in a legendary time and place," O'Nan says. "We don't really know a whole lot about it."

O'Nan uses the real facts and timeline of Fitzgerald's life in Hollywood as a frame for the story, filling in the scenes himself. He says that adapting Fitzgerald's sensibility provided a greater opportunity to understand what it was like to be the famed writer.

"The biographies can't take you close enough," O'Nan says. "Only fiction can take you close enough."

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

    

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on our favorite Essential Pittsburgh stories and guests from 2014. Today we’re highlighting some of our favorite author interviews from the year.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, please refer to the original post.

The success of the Harry Potter books has proven that adults and children can enjoy the same literature. Pittsburgh based author Jonathan Auxier writes books for ages 8 to 14. He’s visited our show a number of times in the past year to review the work of other children’s book authors.

When Auxier first visited our studios back in February, he described his new book “Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes,” featuring a small blind orphan who happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived.

“The book is actually fairly dense on a word level. It’s got very complicated language structure. I was actually working out of a tradition of the eighteenth-century neoclassical writers like Samuel Johnson or Swift or people like that. But the story itself has a very childlike sensibility, and I love mixing that.”

During March, the Community College of Allegheny County will be reminding Pittsburghers to enjoy a good book.

The Big Read, a national program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, will bring together organizations around the region to promote literacy.

“What we hope this will do for literacy is to spark an interest in reading because reading is good for the soul, it elevates the mind, it promotes critical thinking and it helps you to experience other cultures,” said Barbara Evans, associate dean of academic affairs and Big Read project director at CCAC.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Feb 12, 2014
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Dazzled by the bizarre and eccentric characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, children’s author Jonathan Auxier has always been fascinated by peculiar storytelling.

The Vancouver native moved to Pittsburgh to pursue a theater and writing degree from Carnegie Mellon University and fell in love with the city’s charm and enchanting geography. His book, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, spins the tale of a blind orphan who happens to be the greatest thief to ever live. 

How a Local Poet Laureate Got His Start

Jan 22, 2014
Heinz History Center

This month the Heinz History Center’s Italian American Collection is hosting its inaugural Scholar-In-Residence program.

Receiving the honor is Pittsburgh native Joseph Bathanti. He is also the Poet Laureate of North Carolina and has written eight books of poetry and the award-winning novel East Liberty.

All of his works began with an unexpected move by the young University of Pittsburgh Alum. When he was 23 years old, Bathanti volunteered for the  Volunteers in Service to America program (VISTA) and the experience changed the course of his life.

Bathanti was sent to the North Carolina department of corrections to do his service.

Andy Warhol Museum

Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner’s reading interests are eclectic in a way that Andy would surely appreciate. Catch his discussion with 90.5 WESA Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson.