I developed a mania for Fitzgerald – by the time I’d graduated from high school I’d read everything he’d written. I started with ‘The Great Gatsby’ and moved on to ‘Tender Is the Night,’ which just swept me away. Then I read ‘This Side of Paradise,’ his novel about Princeton – I literally slept with that book under my pillow for two years.
I was born and grew up in Fitzgerald, way down in south Georgia. It was a mill town and my family ran the cotton mill. My grandfather was mayor many times and my family felt deeply rooted to that spot.