F. Scott Fitzgerald's previously unpublished short story "The IOU" appeared in the New Yorker several weeks ago.
The story, written in 1920 when Fitzgerald was 23 and after the success of "This Side of Paradise," was somehow lost in the shuffle between competing magazines, Harper's and the Saturday Evening Post. "The IOU" will be included in a new anthology of Fitzgerald's unpublished work, "I'd Die for You and Other Lost Stories."
"The IOU," a satirical piece about a World War I veteran who unexpectedly turns up alive, is not that great, but shows Fitzgerald's ease with the language. It's quite funny, showing a gift that is not usually associated with Fitzgerald.
"The Great Gatsby" and other books displayed an urbane wit. Beyond this, Fitzgerald could also write broadly comic material, laced with black humor. A few years ago, I read his "Pat Hobby Stories," satirical pieces based on his less than successful Hollywood days, and found it wickedly funny in skewering movie targets.
Strange that the New Yorker is publishing Fitzgerald's work nearly 80 years after his death. In the days of founding editor Harold Ross, the New Yorker pretty much ignored Fitzgerald's work, leaving him to Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post and other publications.
It would seem that Firzgerald's tales of metropolitan sophistication would have matched perfectly with Ross's early conception of the magazine, but Fitzgerald had no presence in the magazine outside of three minor stories and two poems. The New Yorker did publish a mocking profile of Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, on April 17, 1926, John C. Moser's "The Sad Young Man."