Save Me the Waltz – Zelda Sayre

Surprise! This is being published at 19:00 because Zelda Sayre was born in 1900. Though we need not trek back that far, I will ask that one come with me back to my last year of undergraduate, 2012. I encounter our new English faculty member, Dr. Schmidt. She is vibrant, very Southern — almost Old South Southern, at least 1890s Southern —, and borderline radical in liberal social views. She is the type of person who causes people to question stereotypes about the South. In other words, she is the exact opposite of me, and she was my tutoring — I should say ‘Supplemental Instruction’ — boss. Now, I am an intense tutor. I make study guides, and quizzes for students. I figure that if I be harder than the instructor then the students can relax when it comes to test time. I, however, encounter more one-on-one tutoring because of it. I am not the large group type. Dr. Schmidt recognised that, and we became professionally appropriate friends. In that friendship — again, as she is still a professor, at a different college, I reiterate that she never crossed any professional boundaries —, we discussed LGBT+, since I am gay, and Southern culture, since she is Southern as is my mother’s side of the family. She also shared that I should read the classics if I want to be a writer. She would not recommend books as she did not want to influence me, but I could come to her to discuss books with her. After bringing up Hemingway, I mentioned Fitzgerald. She mentioned Zelda Sayre. I had, truth be told, never heard of her. Dr. Schmidt told me the highlights of her life, and I was hooked.

Zelda Sayre is one of the reasons I believe in feminism. Now, she was born in 1900, and died in 1948. She is not without her problems. From racism to sexism to alcoholism, she is a problematic person. I just wish that I could live up to her strength, for I do believe that is she were born a hundred years later, she would be one of the leaders of reproductive right protection, and furthering inclusivity in our society.

I digress. Back to the book.

I have never read more than a few pages. There is something sacred about her words. They vibrate with…vibrancy. She paints with words as a dancer paints with the body. She was a dancer, so that makes sense. She just seemed to be more than life. Some would call her crazy, or throw diagnoses at her to silence her voice. Her husband did, for sure. He is also the reason for which she only wrote one novel.

As one can see, in the argument of Francis versus Zelda, I am in common parlance ‘Team Zelda’.

The book is semi-autobiographical, so I expect to see allusions to her life. I am worried that it will deepen my distrust of Francis. I am already quite awkward around fans of his.

I do expect this to feel rushed, though. She wrote it within a month, I believe. That is amazing. She was doing NaNoWriMo before it was a thing. I am anxious to do this…I want to stop writing this, and just read it already.


 

Okay, get writing style is erratic, but not in a crazy person’s, but in a I-published-a-book-within-a-month. Her use of imagery is intriguing. The part that really stuck with me is the depiction of Southern culture. My mother is Southern — Father is very Californian –, so my brother, and sister got the Southern accent, and most tendencies. I have the Californian accent, and most tendencies.

There is one thing that I do which I believe derives from my mother’s Southerness is the addiction to nostalgia. This book seeps with it. With Zelda, she was raised in the height of Southern picturesque nostalgia of the rebellion of the southern states: her grandfather, and her great-uncle being confederate soldiers, and senators.

Her nostalgia is tempered by realism. Alabama, the main character, gains everything she ‘wants’, but finds out that life happens, so she loses it, and then she has to find something new to want…, for life happens, so she loses that…and the ilk.

Her descriptions lean towards that which many call ‘purple prose’ which has fallen out of fashion since — to my knowledge — right before Hemingway. I can see the critique of it being written like a harlequin novel; however, the main character is a dancer…

Dancers are emphatically dramatic, and existing, and we love them for it.

Her prose reflects that. I swooned with every line. Could the novel use an editor?Sure. Would I ever want that? No. It shows a part of a generation’s of women who were silenced by their husbands, and psychiatrists for being too existing.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Now, for the treatment of the novel, fuck the people who compare her work with Francis’. One cannot read anything about Zelda Sayre without Francis’ shadow encroaching. I know that I am a man, but could the man step aside to let a woman shine? No…of course not.

Be safe. Be loved.

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