Published in a 1929 issue of the New Yorker, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Short Autobiography,” chronicles life in a way most appropriate to the inventor of the Jazz Age: as a series of cocktails. According to this “autobiography,” the Big Easy’s famous “sazzarac (sic) cocktail ” is the main event of 1919, “brought up from New Orleans to Montgomery to celebrate an important occasion.” And in 1919, Fitzgerald certianly had cause for celebration.
After This Side of Paradise had been given the green light by Charles Scribner’s Sons for publication, Fitzgerald visited Montgomery, home of the feisty Zelda Sayre, whose romantic interest Fitzgerald renewed by promise of his novel’s success.
In mid-January of 1920, while editing proofs of his soon-to-be-hit, the flapper-scribe rented a room at 2900 Prytania, then a cheap boarding house in New Orleans’ Garden District. Though Fitzgerald resided at 2900 Prytania for less than a month, locals like to claim him as one of their own – an affection likely born of their shared love of booze and jazz.
This Side of Paradise was published shortly after Fitzgerald’s departure from New Orleans. Celebrity secured, Fitzgerald and Sayre resumed their engagement, embarking on a tumultuous love affair whose beginning coincided with that of the Jazz Age.
Now a private home, Fitzgerald’s quarters would have overlooked beautiful Lafayette Cemetery, just a wafting distance from New Orleans’ famous old eatery, Commander’s Palace. Visitors to the Garden District can still gaze up at the windows of this former boarding house, where Sazerac-fueled visions of new love and a dawning Jazz Age once danced in the eyes of America’s greatest novelists.