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Brett Foster


481 Laurel Avenue

Fitzgerald's birthplace and the man who lovingly restored it.

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For me, writers' houses are by definition melancholy. They are often obscure, undervisited, quiet and dark. They remind me of death. And they aim to do the impossible: to make physical—to make real—acts of literary imagination.

Trubek mentions Dick and the Fitzgerald birthplace in her first chapter. She mentions the site's designation as a national landmark, but makes it clear the building is not a museum. "Probably a good thing, too." It probably is, and Trubek's scrutiny provides a strange comfort in view of the upcoming sale of Dick's residence, and a roundly argued support of the new foundation's goals. Even so, it was beautiful while it lasted, and I am glad I was able to visit Dick and his special home.

Fitzgerald, down on his luck in 1940, wrote to his editor Maxwell Perkins that, even if his books were no longer widely read, there was nothing he wrote that "doesn't slightly bear my stamp—in a small way I was an original." Richard McDermott, in his quiet, Minnesotan literature-loving way, was an original, too. He will be missed. Because of Dick, the artistic community in St. Paul is in far less danger these days of forgetting F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of its great native sons. Thanks to the new foundation, there is some consolation that Dick may be remembered for a long time in St. Paul, too. And if no longer so easy to visit now, there still remains the building and literary landmark on Laurel Avenue where he once lived, and where he died. But he'd rather you think of it in a different light—as, most of all, a birthplace, and a place where he, proud and enthusiastic, felt lucky to live as its fortunate tenant for 36 years.

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