Tate, F. Scott Fitzgerald A to Z, p. 261 ("The manuscript and a typescript survive")
F. Scott Fitzgerald's unpublished short story "The I. O. U.," in both autograph manuscript and typescript. The typescript is accompanied by a typed note from Fitzgerald's agent, Harold Ober, giving a brief telegraphic synopsis of the story. This note, intended to accompany the typescript when it was submitted to magazine editors, captures the tone of the story: "Cleverly written story. Almost a satire on publishing business. Told by a publisher. He brings out book by famous psychic research man, purporting to be in communication with his nephew killed in War (WWI). Publisher goes to Ohio to visit author. The nephew who has been in prison camp arrives at same time. Girl he was engaged to also there. Both are angry at author & publisher. Book is selling at great rate. Shows nephew dancing with angels in filmy garments. Publisher offers them money to keep quiet for a while – but native of town arrives. Recognizes nephew because he owes him $3.85 lost at poker. Publisher decides to publish only love stories and mysteries. HO."
Fitzgerald's humorous look at publishing, told from the publisher's point-of-view, and written the year This Side of Paradise was released. In the opening paragraph, the publisher, who declines to give his name, explains his business: "I am a publisher. I accept long novels about young love written by old maids in South Dakota, detective stories concerning wealthy clubmen and female apaches with 'wide dark eyes', essays about menace of this and that and the color of the moon in Tahiti by college professors and other unemployed. I accept no novels by authors under fifteen years old. All the columnists and communists (I can never get those two words straight) abuse me because they say I want money. I do — I want it terribly. My wife needs it. My children use it all the time. If someone offered me all the money in New York I should not refuse it. I would rather bring out a book that had an advance sale of five hundred thousand copies than have discovered Samuel Butler, Theodore Dreiser and James Branch Cabell in one year...."
A fine unpublished story from the beginning of Fitzgerald's brightest decade as a writer.
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