…” Scott Fitzgerald turned the experience of the “joys of motoring” into a “more or less fictional” account of the trip in a humorous three-part article, “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk,” written in 1922 and published in Motor magazine in the February, March, and April 1924 issues. With the text and its illustrations now more readily available, more readers of Fitzgerald will be able to examine “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk” and its theme of “endangered romanticism” described by Roderick Speer.For fifty years this serial article remained neglected; it was never reprinted and Fitzgerald’s critics and biographers mention it only in passing. Speer drew attention to the series as “” He notes that in spite of the wit and romantic expectations in the story, there is “a constant sense of the disappointment always lurking at the fringes of idealism and enthusiasm.” Professor Speer suggests that we can see fermenting in this ostensibly lighthearted story the serious themes and the elegiac tone of The Great Gatsby, and he praises the travel story: “Nothing short of republication of the entire, lengthy series can do justice to it…” (p. Fortunately, Bruccoli Clark has recently published “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk” as a whole, reprinting the pages of the Motor episodes complete with the original photo illustrations and the advertisements in the adjoining columns. As both Speer and Bruccoli have noted, the series is based on an actual journey.In his retrospective 1937 essay, “Early Success,” Fitzgerald described his concept of his artistic role at the beginning of his career: America was going on the greatest, gaudiest spree in history and there was going to be plenty to tell about it.The whole golden boom was in the air—its splendid generosities, its outrageous corruptions and the tortuous death struggle of the old America in prohibition.The series is also prophetic, not only of the fiction that Fitzgerald was to write, but of the direction the Fitzgeralds’ lives would take.The spontaneous actions, the inability to cope with practical matters, the eccentric behavior so amusing in the series and so much a part of the Fitzgeralds’ personal charm would lead to their future unhappiness.
Zelda Fitzgerald’s longing for a breakfast of real peaches and real biscuits begins the story on a whimsical note, but as the travellers finally reach the outskirts of Montgomery, Zelda’s excitement is complicated by the mixed feelings of returning home: “Suddenly Zelda was crying, crying because things were the same and yet were not the same.
While I favor discreetly draping many of the facts of life, I call it a pernicious optimism that tries to pass off the rocky bed of a dried-out stream as a “boulevard.” And the map was ornamented with towns, pops, corner stores and good roads that could have existed only in Dr. If the car fails them by demanding repairs when funds and patience are running low, it also cleverly frightens off a thief who tries to steal the suitcases, by blowing a tire in imitation of the sound of a police gunshot.
More prosaically, Leon Ruth, a friend from Montgomery living in New York, recalls accompanying the Fitzgeralds on the car purchasing expedition: Neither of them could drive much.
He wrote “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk” with at least part of the vantage point he mentions in “Early Success.” He combined fact and fancy in describing the actions and the participants; his characters, including himself, are caricatures as much as portraits.
Even when he includes photographic illustrations, they are not authentic records of the trip.
In “The Rolling Junk” series, Fitzgerald admits his ignorance, is rarely able to perform his own repairs and has to rely on the mercies of garagemen and bystanders.