The story about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa is detailed in the new Vanity Fair, but the most interesting anecdote, involving the poet Guillaume Apollinaire and a young painter named Pablo Picasso, appears on page 109 of A Book of Ages.
Today is author Paul Theroux's birthday; he's 68. He was thirty when he quit teaching to be a writer full time. He also was making enough, finally, to own his own telephone. Page 107, A Book of Ages.
The Great Gatsby was published on April 10, 1925. Fitzgerald wrote much of it the year before while living in France. While there he also took the time to recommend a young writer to his editor at Scribners, a writer he hadn't even met yet named Ernest Hemingway, who was also living in Paris. Fitzgerald is already drinking heavily but not disastrously, as his prose demonstrates, but the novel doesn't sell very well, nor will the next or the one following it, all of which leads Fitz to observe that there are no second acts in American life. F. Scott Fitzgerald appears on pages 69, 89, 103, 148, 153, 161 and 171 in A Book of Ages. There are second acts, by the way, you just have to survive to see them.