For almost 100 years, a short story by The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald remained unpublished. Fitzgerald has been celebrated for his portrayal of the American elite and his poignant critique of society. His recently published short story does not disappoint or deviate from his insightful, biting work.
Published by The New Yorker, Fitzgerald’s satire from 1920, “The I.O.U.“, follows the publishing world’s insatiable lust after “sensational” stories. Such stories are quite similar to what we, in 2017, are calling “fake news”. The main character of “The I.O.U” is a publisher passing out a book written by a doctor in which he claims to have had contact with his dead nephew. However, the publisher lends the book to the doctor’s supposedly ‘dead’ nephew, who is furious with his uncle.
In short, it’s a story about fabricating information for the sake of sales, and it’s amazing.
The last words of the story read,
“I am a publisher. I publish any sort of book. I am looking for a book that will sell five hundred thousand copies. This is the season for novels with a psychic turn. If possible I would prefer something by a fervent materialist about a wealthy clubman and a dark apachess—or something about love. Love is a sure thing—it takes a living man to love.”
“The I.O.U.” is available courtesy of The New Yorker and will be published in a book called I’d Die For You: And Other Lost Stories, which is out in April from Scribner.
Featured image courtesy of Quartz