Programming note: In an hour or so, I'll be guest-hosting "Tucker Carlson Tonight" live on Fox News at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific - with a replay at midnight Eastern/9pm Pacific.
Time for Part Five of my serialization of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, first published in 1922 but truly a Tale for Our Time. Mark Steyn Club Founding Member Sol Cranfill enjoyed last night's performance:
Great, spirited reading of this episode!
Thank you, Sol. It's a satirical fantasy, so I felt it helped to dial it up a couple of notches. I'll be back to my usual dreary monotone for our next story. In tonight's episode, John gets a glimpse into the derangements of unlimited wealth:
John was enchanted by the wonders of the chĂ˘teau and the valley. Braddock Washington, so Percy told him, had caused to be kidnapped a landscape gardener, an architect, a designer of stage settings, and a French decadent poet left over from the last century. He had put his entire force of negroes at their disposal, guaranteed to supply them with any materials that the world could offer, and left them to work out some ideas of their own. But one by one they had shown their uselessness. The decadent poet had at once begun bewailing his separation, from the boulevards in springâ€”he made some vague remarks about spices, apes, and ivories, but said nothing that was of any practical value. The stage designer on his part wanted to make the whole valley a series of tricks and sensational effectsâ€”a state of things that the Washingtons would soon have grown tired of. And as for the architect and the landscape gardener, they thought only in terms of convention. They must make this like this and that like that.
But they had, at least, solved the problem of what was to be done with themâ€”they all went mad early one morning after spending the night in a single room trying to agree upon the location of a fountain, and were now confined comfortably in an insane asylum at Westport, Connecticut.
"But," inquired John curiously, "who did plan all your wonderful reception rooms and halls, and approaches and bathroomsâ€”?"
"Well," answered Percy, "I blush to tell you, but it was a moving-picture fella. He was the only man we found who was used to playing with an unlimited amount of money, though he did tuck his napkin in his collar and couldn't read or write."
That line rings somewhat ironic, given that Fitzgerald himself was reduced to moving-picture hack work a decade or so later.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Five of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz can be found here, and previous Tales for Our Time here.
For more on The Mark Steyn Club, please see here. If you're thinking of giving the gift of Steyn this holiday season, we've introduced a special Mark Steyn gift membership that lets you sign up a chum for the Steyn Club and then choose a personally autographed welcome gift for them - either one of two handsome hardback books or a couple of CDs. You'll find more details here - and scroll down to the foot of the order form for the choice of books/CDs.
See you on TV in an hour, and for a pre-Thanksgiving Part Six of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz tomorrow.