The Bowl by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1928
The magic trick:
Cutting to the emotional essence, thereby making a story about World War I era Ivy League football fresh and relevant in 2015
We post this today to note the start of football season. F. Scott Fitzgerald takes us back to World War I era Ivy League rivalry football games in a story that remains surprisingly fresh. I can’t imagine a duller sporting event than Princeton playing Yale to a 6-to-6 tie, but Fitzgerald finds the fire here.
He does so by getting down to the essence of the football hero and letting us in on the personal dramas he is playing off the field. And he does so by magnifying the importance of the characters and the events through his narrator. The narrator’s name is Jeff but he may as well be Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. He trails Dolly around like a loyal pup and reports on his life in the first person without ever really being involved himself.
It all adds up to a perfect story to welcome in the autumn. And that’s quite a trick on Fitzgerald’s part.
“Are you glad you did it, Dolly?” I asked him suddenly one day.
He looked at me with reproach behind the defiance in his eyes.
“Of course I’m glad.”
“I wish you were in that back field, all the same.”
“It wouldn’t matter a bit. This year’s game’s in the Bowl. I’d probably be dropping kicks for them.”