A Biography in Beverages

The New Yorker, an American magazine founded in 1925, is a kaleidoscope of comic and satirical texts by some of America’s finest writers. For all who’d like a glimpse on the magazine’s history, here is a true classic: a tongue-in-cheek autobiography by F. Scott Fitzgerald who was among the first to work for The New Yorker from 1929 to 1937.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

A Short Autobiography

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1913

The four defiant Canadian Club whiskeys at the Susquehanna in Hackensack.

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1914

The Great Western Champagne at the Trent House in Trenton

and the groggy ride back to Princeton.

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1915

The sparkling Burgundy at Bustanoby’s. The raw whiskey in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, when I got up on a table and sang “Won’t you come up,” to the cowmen. […]

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1916

The apple brandy nipped at in the locker-room at the White Bear Yacht Club. […]

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1918

The Bourbon smuggled to officers’ rooms by bellboys at the Seelbach in Louisville. […]

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1920

Red wine at Mollat’s. Absinthe cocktails in a hermetically sealed apartment in the Royalton. Corn liquor by moonlight in a deserted aviation field in Alabama. […]

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1922

Kaly’s crème de cacao cocktails in St. Paul. My own first and last manufacture of gin.

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1923

Oceans of Canadian ale with R. Lardner in Great Neck, Long Island.

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1924

Champagne cocktails on the Minnewaska,

and apologizing to the old lady we kept awake. […]

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1925

[…] Champagne cocktails in the Ritz sweatshops in Paris. Poor wines from Nicolas. Kirsch at Burgundy inn against the rain with E. Hemingway. […]

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1927

Delicious California “Burgundy-type” wine in one of the Ambassador bungalows in Los Angeles. The beer I made in Delaware that had a dark inescapable sediment. Cases of dim, unsatisfactory whiskey in Delaware. […]

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1929

A feeling that all liquor has been drunk and all it can do for one has been experienced, and yet Garçon, un Chablis-Mouton 1902, et pour commencer, une petite carafe de vin rosé. C’est ça-merci.”

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Note: Fitzgerald’s politically incorrect autobiography appeared in The New Yorker on May 25, 1929. Prohibition in the US remained in place until 1930.


Source

F. Scott Fitzgerald: “A Short Autobiography”. In: Fierce Pajamas. An Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker. Ed. By David Remnick and Henry Finder. New York: Modern Library, 2002, p. 191ff

 

Illustrations

⋅ Adaptation of Cupid in a Wine Glass, oil painting by Abraham Woodside, 1840s, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Signature of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1934.

 

Recommended Reading

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s full text of “A Short Autobiography” in The New Yorker’s Digital Archive.

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