A Million Lights on the Boulevard

Feb 4, 2018

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On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with writer Stewart O'Nan about his historical novel, West of Sunset

Published by Viking, the novel is a fictional account, beginning in 1937, of the last three years of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald's life.

It weaves a tale of his notorious romp through Hollywood; his affair with gossip columnist, Sheilah Graham; his attempts to salvage his writing career; and whatever was left of his marriage to Zelda, locked away in an asylum.

O'Nan writes:

“Dearest Heart,

I have arrived at last at the blessed end of the continent, well and rested and ready to do battle with Goldwyn and Mayer and whatever third head of Cerberus guards the gates…

Alone at the table with his Coke, he soaked in the long view across Hollywood and the darkened city, the dwindling rows of street lights like the runways of an endless airport, then the black mass of the sea.”

Zelda and F. Scott

Many portray these years as wasted years, yet Fitzgerald's work on many Hollywood films, including Gone With The Wind, left an indelible impression on the Golden Age of Hollywood. 

Stewart O’Nan is the author of numerous books, including West of Sunset, The Odds, Emily Alone, Snow Angels, Songs for the Missing, and A Prayer for the Dying.

His 2007 novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, where he lives with his family.

Novelist, Stewart O'Nan

This show was recorded by the wonderful and wise William Wagner during a UA Little Rock campus visit by Stewart O'Nan, sponsored by the Cooper Honors Program in the Department of English. A special thanks to Mr. Jeff Condran for facilitating the campus lecture and this interview. 

Thank you to featured musicians Silas Hite, The Heather Smith Band and Amyjo Savanah for sharing their music. Thanks also to Little Rock's Harp for the steel drum music and Sisters of Harmony trio.

Listen to the song "The Story Begins" by Silas Hite

Listen to the song "Lonely With You" by Amyjo Savannah 

Listen to the song "Lonely Little City by the Sea" by the Heather Smith Band 

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Executive Producer & Host:  J. Bradley Minnick


Producer: Mary Ellen Kubit

Recorded by: William Wagner

Interns: Krista Hancock, Marty Burton, and Kaitlin Strain