“Have a lot of it written up. It's about a woman who wants to destroy a man because she loves him too much and is afraid she'll lose him, but not to another woman—but because she'll stop loving him so much. Well, she decides to destroy him by marrying him. She marries him, and gets to love him even more than she did before. Then she gets jealous of him, because of his achievements in some line that she thinks she's also good in. Then, I guess, she commits suicide—first she does it step by step, the way all people, all women commit suicide, by drinking, by sleeping around, by being impolite to friends, and that way. I haven't got the rest of it clear in my head, but that's the heart of it. What do you think, Henry?”
“Well, it's your wife, Zelda, all over again,” Mencken said.
Fitzgerald sat down, swallowed some of his drink, and then got up and paced back and forth. Without looking at Mencken, he said: “That's the dumbest piece of literary criticism I have ever heard or read.”
Mencken said nothing. Fitzgerald continued: “You know, Henry, sometimes I think you're no literary critic at all. I don't know what the hell you are, but you're no critic, that's sure. I spill my insides to you and you answer with ... Zelda. You don't know what a writer goes through, what he fumbles for, you don't know the grace he searches for. And, goddamn it, you have no compassion. Of all the times to mention Zelda to me! Of all the goddamn times to mention her!” He sank into his chair and burst into tears.
Mencken stood up, muttered, “I'll be seeing you,” and he and I walked out.
“Scott will never amount to a hoot in hell till he gets rid of his wife,” Mencken said as we returned to the office.