Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I was very surprised and saddened to read that Matthew Bruccoli died on June 4th. Anyone who has read or studied the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald should be familiar with his name. He wrote the definitive bibliography and biography of Fitzgerald, as well as 50 other books of literary criticism on Fitzgerald and many other authors. Matt's work helped launch the resurgence of  interest in Fitzgerald at a time when his stock was very low. He was also a passionate book collector who put together a wonderful collection of Fitzgerald first editions and manuscripts. This collection now belongs to the library of the University of South Carolina.

I met Matt a few years ago at the New York Book Fair. For an avid Fitzgerald collector like myself, it was like meeting a rock star. He was quite recognizable by the 50's style brush cut hair, big glasses and thick New York accent. We became friends and pen pals (no email for Matt). He was nice enough to invite me to South Carolina to see the collection.

Last spring, I went to Columbia and spent a very entertaining evening with Matt and his lovely wife, Arlyn. First, I went to their house for drinks and saw the Cugat painting from the cover  of the Great Gatsby, as well as many other interesting books. Later, we had a great dinner. Matt was never afraid to express his opinions on a variety of subjects and he did so that night in his distinctive voice.

 The next day, he showed me the collection that was his life's work. An entire room of Fitzgerald first editions, rarities, and signed copies. I could not believe my eyes. Pulling books from his shelves, I was like a kid at Christmas. The highlight for me was putting my hands on the galleys of the Great Gatsby.

Matt had a unique passion for book collecting. I was lucky to know him and see his great collection of books.


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