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I think Fitzgerald wrote very well about wanting money. At the very least about looking from the outside in at the upper-class.

I don't see how he couldn't, growing up lower-middle class on Summit Ave. in its heyday of old-money. Walking by looking in those fogged up mansion windows glowing brightly on a cold winter's evening inspires all kinds of money envy in me even today.

I like what Hemingway supposedly said to Fitz when he remarked "The rich are different than you and I."

Hem replied "Yeah, they have money."

I also heard an interesting tidbit somewhere about how no matter how wealthy you are (to a point), Americans tend to consider themselves middle class. One could always 'have (need) more' in this country. It's the way we're conditioned to think, given all the "buy your spouse and audi" commercials and this time of year in general.

In all, I think the tendency is to overlook what you have and constantly be longing for what is supposedly "absent" and how much better your life would be if you had it. It's the American Dream.



There's also a weird not wanting to self-identify as in any way privileged, because then you're pretty much Thurston Howell or Lovie on Gilligan's Island. Back in the 80s, when "yuppie" was new, Esquire tried to find one. They went either to Harvard Business School or maybe to a Harvard class that had already graduated. All the more generic MBAs said, we're not the real yuppies, the real yuppies are guys who went into Finance. All the Finance types gazed out over their suspenders and tie bars (big back then) and said, we'rejust regular Joes compared to x. Esquire found x. He said, "I'm not a yuppie. I drive an American car."

You're also right that being in Fitzgerald's neighborhood here in Saint Paul does heighten a sense of class differences. There are people here raising families in the kind of apartments I lived in as a student and there are people in houses along Summit that may be worth more than my lifetime earnings.


Your post got me thinking...

I think another guy who writes well about the kind of glamorous upper class the way we'd like to envision it is Bret Easton Ellis. Many of the characters he writes are handed the right school, the right car, the right drugs, the right sex -- and I find it interesting how he writes about the characters reactions to having all of that.

And your comment also stimulated a thought...

The last money bubble people rode to sudden wealth made a lot of folks "noveau riche." It's almost as if there's a difference between how you make it - did you go to Harvard and get the finance degree (old money - putting yourself in the "not wanting to self-identify as priveleged" category) or did you buy into the low interest housing loan scandal and flip a bunch of properties before you lost your ass (new money - let's go buy a mc mansion in Woodbury, fake tits for the wife and three SUV's...also known as the Thurston Howell effect).


Your comments have made me think that, as is often the case, the glib thing I think isn't the truth at all–that an awareness of class is all over American fiction and literature. In Augie March, there are classic Chicago hustlers–including Augie's brother––everywhere. And in more recent fiction, the clash between regions is all over Richard Powers' The Echo Maker and the reality of layoffs is behind everything in Then We Came To The End and Patricia Hampl's memoir The Florist's Daughter is very upfront about what it means to be middle class in the midwest in the middle of the last century. AS is often the case, I took a personal defect and transformed it into a cultural critique.

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