Monday, November 12, 2018

Book Review: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

The original 1925 cover of The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The beautiful cover art was by Francis Cugat. It was the only book cover he ever designed. I can't think of another novel that still has the same cover art, 93 years after it was first published.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, their daughter Scottie, and Scottie's nanny, 1924, as he was writing The Great Gatsby.
I recently re-read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. What more is there to add about one of the most famous novels ever written? Simply put, it is Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. It’s different from all his other novels. Not in terms of subject matter, for Fitzgerald’s subjects and obsessions remained constant throughout his career, but there’s a difference in feeling. After reading Fitzgerald’s first two novels, This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned, the contrast with The Great Gatsby is stunning. Whereas those two novels are like overstuffed armchairs, as Fitzgerald crams in all the observations he’s made in his life, Gatsby is a stripped-down masterpiece. There’s nothing extraneous in the book.

Fitzgerald made an excellent artistic choice when he decided that Nick Carraway should serve as the book’s narrator. This puts the reader slightly at a distance from Gatsby, and makes him more mysterious to us. Like Fitzgerald, Nick Carraway is a Minnesotan who is a sharp-eyed observer of the events around him. There’s a beautiful sentence where Nick is describing the party with Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson at Myrtle’s love nest:

“Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” (p.40) 

Nick’s sense of himself as both observer and participant is how I imagine Fitzgerald must have seen himself. Fitzgerald participated in all kinds of privileged social activities, fancy parties at the White Bear Yacht Club, dinner and dancing at the University Club, but I suspect there was part of his brain that was always viewing it from the outside, taking mental notes for when he would reconstruct these scenes later in his fiction. Unfortunately there’s no quote I can pull out from Fitzgerald to prove his mind worked this way. However, Nick’s sense of being within and without fits perfectly with what Malcolm Cowley called Fitzgerald’s “double vision.” Cowley wrote:

“It was as if all his novels described a big dance to which he had taken the prettiest girl, and as if at the same time he stood outside the ballroom, a little Midwestern boy with his nose to the glass, wondering how much the tickets cost and who paid for the music.” (Introduction to The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, p.xiv)

I think Fitzgerald put some of his own romanticism into the character of Jay Gatsby. Fitzgerald wrote to his editor Maxwell Perkins, “Gatsby sticks in my heart.” (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, p.211) I also suspect that in person Fitzgerald exuded some of the same charisma that Gatsby has. Biographer Andrew Turnbull knew Fitzgerald, and he wrote in his biography about Scott’s magnetism: “Fitzgerald focused on youeven riveted on youand if there was one thing you were sure of, it was that whatever you happened to be talking about was the most important matter in the world.” (Scott Fitzgerald, by Andrew Turnbull, p.225) Fitzgerald echoes Gatsby’s famous line about repeating the past in Tender is the Night: “The drink made past happy things contemporary with the present, as if they were still going on, contemporary even with the future as if they were about to happen again.” (p.107-8) I don’t know if some of Fitzgerald’s drinking was an attempt so sink back into a happier past, but the passage certainly fits with his nostalgic and romantic notions about life and art. 

Reading Gatsby again, I was struck by the humor and irony throughout the book. I think this was intentional on Fitzgerald’s part. When Gatsby almost knocks the clock off the mantelpiece at his reunion with Daisy, it’s a funny, awkward moment, and I think Fitzgerald intended it to be humorous.

Ironically enough, given its current status as a classic, The Great Gatsby did not set the world on fire when it was first published. A now notorious review in the New York World was headlined, “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s latest a dud.” However, some critics did understand was an accomplishment it was, and Fitzgerald received letters of congratulation about the book from Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, and T.S. Eliot, who wrote “In fact it seems to me to be the first step American fiction has taken since Henry James.” (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, by Matthew J. Bruccoli, p.218) 

Fitzgerald knew that he had written something amazing. In a letter written shortly after the novel’s publication, Fitzgerald wrote: “Gatsby was far from perfect in many ways but all in all it contains such prose as has never been written in America before. From that I take heart.” (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, p.221) 

The Great Gatsby was also not an immediate best-seller. When it was released in April of 1925, the first printing was 20,000 copies. In August Scribner’s went ahead with a second printing of 3,000 copies. When Fitzgerald died fifteen years later, there were still unsold copies of the second printing sitting in the Scribner’s warehouse. 

Fitzgerald wrote his editor Maxwell Perkins just after the publication, and he offered two explanations for why the book did not become an immediate best-seller: 

“1st: The title is only fair, rather bad than good. 2nd: And most importantthe book contains no important woman character and women control the fiction market at present.” (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, p.217) 

Fitzgerald usually went through numerous title changes for his novels, and Gatsby was no exception. (Tender is the Night went through seven possible titles during its long gestation before the final title was settled on.) Early titles for Gatsby were Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires, Gold-Hatted Gatsby, On the Road to West Egg, The High-Bouncing Lover, Trimalchio, and Trimalchio in West Egg. Personally, I think Trimalchio would have been a pretty obscure title, as it refers to a character in the Satyricon by Petronius who threw extravagant parties. At the very last minute, Fitzgerald cabled Perkins to ask about a possible title change to Under the Red, White and Blue. I think that would have been an excellent title, although it brings to mind a more sweeping novel, a panorama of American life, rather than the small slice that Gatsby gives us. Of course, to my ears now The Great Gatsby sounds perfectit’s simple, easy to remember, and has nice alliteration. 

As to the book containing “no important woman character,” certainly Daisy Fay Buchanan and Jordan Baker are important to the novel, but they aren’t the main focus. Even though Gatsby’s quest for Daisy is the main action of the book, Daisy remains somewhat underdeveloped as a character. However, this may have been deliberate on Fitzgerald’s part. Daisy remains somewhat vague to us as she probably remains vague to Gatsbyis he in love with the Daisy of the present, or the Daisy of five years’ past? Gatsby himself might not know the answer to that question. We also never get to see Daisy and Gatsby alone after their reunionsince Nick obviously cannot observe such scenes, they don’t become part of the novel, and thus deprive us of a deeper knowledge of both characters. 

In 1934, Gatsby was reprinted by the Modern Library. It was withdrawn from the series because of low sales. (F. Scott Fitzgerald on Authorship, p.141) In his introduction to the Modern Library reprint, dated August, 1934, Fitzgerald expressed some of his frustrations over American literary criticism, and he defended the novel, writing: 

“Now that this book is being reissued, the author would like to say that never before did one try to keep his artistic conscience as pure as during the ten months put into doing it. Reading it over one can see how it could have been improvedyet without feeling guilty of any discrepancy from the truth, as far as I saw it; truth or rather the equivalent of the truth, the attempt at honesty of imagination.” (ibid, p.140) 

Fitzgerald also explains the economical prose of the book, as he wrote, “What I cut out of it both physically and emotionally would make another novel!” (ibid, p.140) 

Ironically enough, this Great American Novel was written in Europe; specifically, France and Italy. Fitzgerald had worked on the book while living in Great Neck, Long Island, but he was finding his busy social life to be a distraction. 

Fitzgerald was humorously prophetic in a letter he wrote to his friend the novelist Thomas Boyd in May of 1924: “Well, I shall write a novel better than any novel ever written in America and become par excellence the best second-rater in the world.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, p.69) 

In Europe, the novel came together fairly quickly, and by late October of 1924 the typescript was sent off to Scribner’s. Throughout the winter, Fitzgerald made changes to the book, including reorganizing some chapters. As always, Fitzgerald kept revising and improving his work until the last possible minute, even making substantial changes to the book when it was in galley form. Gatsby was turned down by several magazines for serialization, which was probably just as well, since The Beautiful and Damned had suffered an unfortunate serialization at the hands of Carl Hovey, the editor of Metropolitan magazine, who removed much of the guts from it. 

The Great Gatsby remains F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, and Gatsby’s place in American literature testifies to his consummate skill as a chronicler of the times in which he lived. It’s a shame that Fitzgerald didn’t live to see the novel take its rightful place as one of the greatest of all American novels.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Today's Game Era Committee Hall of Fame Ballot

Harold Baines, trying to look cool while wearing one of the worst uniforms ever.

Joe Carter, celebrating the biggest home run of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.

Lee Smith, throwing some heat for the Cardinals.
On Monday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame released the ballot for the Today’s Game Era Committee. A replacement for the Veteran’s Committee, the new committees break up the game into different eras. “Today’s Game Era” looks at players who made their most significant contributions from 1988 to the present. There are 10 people on this year’s ballotone executive, three managers, and six players. It’s a pretty weak ballot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if no one is elected.

Let’s take a look at the non-players first:

George Steinbrenner: Oh, you mean the guy who made illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972 and was convicted of obstruction of justice? Oh, the guy who was banned from day to day management of the team he owned in 1990a result of his decision to hire a gambler to try to find some dirt on Dave Winfield? Steinbrenner was a first-class jerk in my book, and I don’t think he belongs in the Hall of Fame. 

Davey Johnson: An excellent second baseman in his day, Johnson actually has a higher OPS+ than Joe Carter: 110 to 105. Johnson also has one of the most unlikely 40 home run seasons ever. In 1973 he slammed 43 homers for the Braves; his highest total in any other season was 18. Johnson was part of a trio of Braves who hit 40 home runs that year, joining him were Hank Aaron and Darrell Evans. However, Johnson is on the ballot for his skill as a manager. Johnson led the 1986 Mets to a World Series winthe only time any of his teams ever made it to the Fall Classic. Johnson won 1,372 games, good for 31st all-time. He lost only 1,071, giving him a .562 winning percentage. That winning percentage might be Johnson’s ticket to the Hall, as it’s higher than HOF managers Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams, Miller Huggins, Wilbert Robinson, and Whitey Herzog, to name some other managers whose win totals are close to Johnson’s. 

Charlie Manuel: I’m surprised he made it on the ballot. With exactly 1,000 wins, he would have the least wins of any manager in the Hall of Fame. There’s simply no reason to pick Manuel, let alone to pick him over Johnson and Lou Piniella, unless the Committee has a real soft spot for the 2008 Phillies.

Lou Piniella: After a long playing career, which included winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1969, Piniella managed the New York Yankees twice under George Steinbrenner, and then had better luck with the Cincinnati Reds, leading them to a sweep in the 1990 World Series. While that was Piniella’s lone managerial appearance in the World Series, he racked up 1,835 victories, 16th on the all-time list. Piniella’s winning percentage of .517 is significantly lower than Johnson’s, but I think Piniella’s win total will be enough to get him in the Hall of Fame. 

Okay, now on to the players:

Harold Baines: One of my favorite players when I was growing up, Baines finished his career with some excellent counting stats:  2,866 hits, 384 home runs, and 1,628 RBI. Baines is 34th on the all-time RBI list, and the only players above him who aren’t in the Hall of Fame are linked to PEDsBarry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, and Sammy Sosaor aren’t eligible yetAlex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre, and Miguel Cabrera. That’s not going to be enough to get Baines into the Hall of Fame, but it shows what a prolific hitter he was, piling up more RBIs than HOFers like Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, and Willie Stargell. I bet most baseball fans would be stumped on that piece of trivia. 

One of the factors against Baines is that he spent so much of his career as a designated hitter. After the 1986 season, he never played more than 25 games in the field in a season. Baines is one of those players who had a really great career, but he just doesn’t feel like a Hall of Famer. He also didn’t have much of a peak as a playerthere was never a time when he was one of the very best players in the game. Baines lasted five years on the writers’ ballot, but the highest total he received was 6.1%, just barely over the 5% required to stay on the ballot. 

Players like Baines just haven’t been elected to the Hall of Fame lately. The last outfielder or first baseman elected to the Hall of Fame with fewer than 400 home runs was Tim Raines in 2017, who was elected for his ability to get on base and steal bases. Before that you have to go back to 2009, when Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were elected. Obviously, Henderson had a lot more to offer than just power, as he was probably the best leadoff hitter ever, as well as the all-time stolen base leader. Jim Rice is a good comparison to the kind of player Baines was, as Rice finished his career with 2,452 hits and 382 home runs, well short of any of the “magic numbers” that usually ensure election. However, unlike Baines, Rice’s career was full of black ink, as he led the league in home runs three times, RBIs twice, slugging percentage twice, and total bases four times. Even with all of these offensive credentials, it took Rice the full 15 years to be elected, and sabermetrically inclined people have decried his election. I don’t know if we’ll ever see another outfielder or first baseman elected who has fewer than 400 home runs or 3,000 hits. 

Albert Belle: He was a very good hitter, but an absolute jerk as a human being. He was an excellent hitter at his peak, but his career was too short to pile up enough counting stats. He’s not a Hall of Famer.

Joe Carter: One of the most prolific RBI men of all time, ending up with 1,445 for his career, Carter famously hit a World Series-winning home run for the Blue Jays in 1993. Carter knocked in more than 100 RBIs in 10 seasonsat the time he retired after the 1998 season, only eight players had done that, and they were all Hall of Famers. As mentioned in my comments about Harold Baines, there’s just no way that Carter will get elected, as he’s an outfielder with fewer than 400 home runs and 3,000 hits. Carter hit 396 home runs, and even with another four home runs, he’d still fall short of being a Hall of Famer. Carter’s entire case is based around home runs and RBIs, and sabermetrics significantly weaken Carter’s case. He was a good player, but not a Hall of Famer. Random fact: Carter was a 30-30 guy in 1987, which I totally forgot about. 

Will Clark: Like Carter and Baines, Clark was a very good hitter, but he’s not a Hall of Famer. Clark is just too short on the counting stats. The Hall of Fame isn’t looking for first basemen who gathered 2,176 hits, 284 home runs, and 1,205 RBIs. Clark was an excellent hitter throughout his careerhe even hit .319 in 2000, his last year in the majors. 

Orel Hershiser: Like Will Clark, Hershiser probably projected to be a Hall of Famer after his dominant first few seasons. However, injuries took their toll in the early 1990’s, and even though Hershiser was able to bounce back and have some excellent seasons with the Cleveland Indians, he ended his career with 204 wins, a pretty low total for a prospective Hall of Famer. For me, Hershiser was an excellent pitcher, but he falls short of being a Hall of Famer. That being said, his 1988 season was pretty darn amazing.

Lee Smith: For many years, Smith held the all-time saves record, finishing his career with 478. Only Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman have surpassed that total. Hoffman is now in the Hall, and Rivera will undoubtedly be a first-ballot choice. Does that mean Smith should get in too? It’s difficult to say how the Hall of Fame should judge closers, since so few of them have been elected, and because the job keeps changing from decade to decade. 

In one way, Smith has the strongest argument of any of the players on the ballot to be elected to the Hall, since he spent 15 years on the writers’ ballot and had significant support. Smith wasn’t just barely hanging on, his support ranged from a high of 50.6% on the 2012 ballot to a low of 29.9% on the 2014 ballot. Side note: it’s really odd that his support dropped so much in just two years. Every player that has received 50% of the votes required for election has eventually gotten in, with the exception of Gil Hodges. Smith is making his first appearance on an “era committee” ballot, so it will be interesting to see how he fares.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Review: Tom Wolfe, by William McKeen (1995)

The cover of Tom Wolfe, by William McKeen, 1995. (Standard photo on the Tom Wolfe bookshelf, by Mark C. Taylor)
William McKeen’s 1995 book on Tom Wolfe, titled simply Tom Wolfe, and part of the Twayne’s United States Authors Series, was the first book-length examination of the career of one of the most important American writers of the last fifty years. McKeen’s book is not a biography of Wolfe, although he does include biographical information about Wolfe’s life. Like many other sources on Wolfe, McKeen gives the incorrect year for Wolfe’s birth, 1931, instead of the correct year, 1930. (Even Wolfe’s obituary in The New York Times originally had the wrong year.) 

McKeen’s book follows Wolfe through his career, as he moved from newspaper reporter to freelance journalist to best-selling novelist. McKeen obviously did his homework, and one of the most interesting parts of the book was his coverage of Wolfe’s 1959-1962 stint working at The Washington Post. Wolfe covered a variety of topics for the Post, and while most Washington reporters wanted to cover politics, Wolfe enjoyed writing stories about off-beat subjects. Thanks to McKeen’s bibliography, we’re given a long list of Wolfe’s articles for the Post, which range from the banal-sounding “Holiday Gets Cold Start, Mild Finish,” to a 12-part series titled “The Dispensable Guide,” Wolfe’s “mock Michelin Guide to the cities President Eisenhower was visiting overseas.” (McKeen, p.20) 

One of the things that’s so striking about Tom Wolfe’s work is its range. Wolfe certainly had a consistent lens through which he viewed the world. It’s all about status! How people acquire status and how they choose to display it are two questions that are central to Wolfe’s work. Wolfe’s interest in status was already highly developed by the time he published his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby in 1965. But within that lens of status, Wolfe covered a huge range of subjectsfrom his early pieces for Esquire magazine chronicling new movements among American teenagers, to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, to the adventures of the Mercury 7 astronauts, to book-length essays on modern art and architecture, to his fiction, where he brought the reader inside the world of New York City bond traders who thought themselves to be “masters of the universe,” to Atlanta in the 1990’s, and to the diverse ethnic groups in Miami. 

Looking back, it makes perfect sense that Wolfe’s Ph.D. was in American Studies. Wolfe was interested in everything about America, and that’s reflected in the range of his writing. In his best writing, Wolfe was combining elements of history, politics, sociology, economics, and sometimes religion as well. 

Wolfe’s move to the New York Herald-Tribune in 1962 allowed him the space and freedom to write the kinds of stories that intrigued him. During this time, he was also writing for New York, the Sunday supplement of the Herald-Tribune. Wolfe also started writing longer articles for Esquire, and it was his piece for that magazine about a car customizing show in California that proved to be a breakthrough in his writing style. “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” found Wolfe up against a deadline with a serious case of writer’s block. Wolfe sat down at the typewriter to bash out his notes for Esquire editor Byron Dobell, which someone else would then tart up into some kind of a story. Except Wolfe sat there all night long and bashed out a 49-page memo to Dobell. When Dobell finished reading it, he merely struck the “Dear Byron” off the beginning of Wolfe’s memo, and a new voice in American journalism was born. 

McKeen examines the most significant essays that appeared in the first two collections of Wolfe’s non-fiction, but there are interesting pieces of writing from these books that McKeen didn’t write about. 

An amusing story is that when Tom Wolfe first burst on the scene, people thought he might be the novelist Thomas Wolfe, of Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again fameeven though Thomas Wolfe had died in 1938. McKeen writes: “He received many letters from admirers who professed admiration for his journalism as well as his earlier literary works, Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. The letter writers often wondered why there had been such a long gap between publication of his books.” (McKeen, p.11) Adding to the confusion was the fact that Tom Wolfe was actually Tom Wolfe, Jr. His father was an agronomist and also a writer and editor. Wolfe said of his father, “I always thought of him as a writer. He kept the novels of Thomas Wolfe on his bookshelf, and for years I thought he’d written them.” (Conversations with Tom Wolfe, p.201) In an effort to head off any possible confusion, the first edition dust jacket of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby specifically said that Tom Wolfe wasn’t related to Thomas Wolfe.

In his coverage of what came to be called New Journalism, McKeen offers brief sketches of other important figures in that literary movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, like Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, and Hunter S. Thompson. These sketches are helpful for setting Wolfe’s own work in a historical context, and showing how controversial the New Journalism movement was at the time. Capote, for example, disdained the term, famously calling his book In Cold Blood a “non-fiction novel,” whatever on earth that was. What Capote had actually done was to use techniques that fiction writers used and applied them to a non-fiction subject. Although the caveat should be added that we now know that Capote did invent some sceneslike the last one in the book, in which investigator Alvin Dewey visits the graves of the Clutter family. 

McKeen’s chapter about The Right Stuff is excellent, and he even quoted from the same long description of Gus Grissom and Deke Slayton that I used in my review. McKeen gives a too-long plot summary of The Bonfire of the Vanities, and I wish instead that McKeen had more to say about the Rolling Stone version of The Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe serialized the novel as he was writing it in 27 issues of Rolling Stone in 1984-5, and then made some significant changes before publishing the novel in 1987. Wolfe even changed the occupation of the main characterin the Rolling Stone version Sherman McCoy is a writer, rather than a bond trader.

The book doesn’t pry into Wolfe’s private life, but that seems fitting. Despite Wolfe’s great fame and his flamboyant sartorial splendor, he never made headlines for his private life. As McKeen astutely writes, “Wolfe’s embodies Flaubert’s advice to writers to be regular and orderly in their lives in order to be wild and original in their work.” (McKeen, p.130) McKeen also grasps Wolfe’s iconoclasm, and his willingness to go against popular opinion and attack the hypocrisies of both the left and the right. There were never any sacred cows for Tom Wolfe. 

McKeen’s book is an excellent examination of the works of Tom Wolfe, and McKeen’s writing and insights about Wolfe are sharp throughout. The used copy of Tom Wolfe that I bought is a former library book, from the Fairfax County Public Library, in Wolfe’s home state of Virginia. According to a stamp in the back it was withdrawn because of low demand, which is a cruel fate for such a fine book about a great writer.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Book Review: Clue: The Storybook, adapted by Ann Matthews (1985)

Clue: The Storybook, adapted by Ann Matthews, 1985. (Photo by Mark C. Taylor)

The wonderful cast of Clue. From left to right: Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Madeline Kahn, Michael McKean, Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, and Eileen Brennan.
The 1985 murder mystery comedy Clue is my favorite movie. I wrote an article about it earlier this year. And I just wrote about the novel based on the screenplay. In a similar vein, I’ll discuss Clue: The Storybook, which was adapted by Ann Matthews. Like the novel, it sells for ridiculous prices on Amazon. Clue: The Storybook was published by Little Simon, a division of Simon & Schuster that produces books for children. Considering that the plot of Clue is all about blackmail and contains multiple murders, it might not have been the best candidate for the Little Simon storybook treatment. That being said, I saw Clue at a pretty early age, although not in the theater, and it doesn’t seem to have warped me too much. 

Clue: The Storybook reads like a version of the movie with all of the jokes left out. Some of the content has been edited to make it more acceptable for children. Which means that when in the movie Mr. Green tells everyone that he’s gay, in the Storybook he says: “I work for the state department, and I am engaged in a relationship that I have to keep quiet…sort of an affair.” (p.23) So he’s having “sort of an affair”? That makes zero sense. 

And many of the best parts of the movie just don’t appear. For example, Wadsworth and Colonel Mustard’s great back and forth about whether or not there’s anyone else in the house is skipped over. (“No. Sorry. I said no meaning yes.”) Instead of the elaborate scenes concocted to keep the police officer ignorant of the murders that have occurred, in the Storybook his suspicions are assuaged when Miss Scarlet simply tells him, “We’re having a party.” (p.43) 

The best part of the Storybook is that it’s lavishly illustrated with stills from the movie. The endpapers also give us a nice floorplan of Hill House, which is set up exactly like the game board. 

Clue famously featured three different endings when it was released in theaters, and a fourth ending was filmed, but cut before the movie was released. Like the novel, the Storybook also features the fourth ending. The gist of it is that Wadsworth killed everyone, and then poisoned all of the guests, who will die within three hours if they don’t get an antidote. The police show up, and Wadsworth starts another reenactment of the entire evening, but then steps out the front door and steals a police car. He is then attacked by the police dogs in the back seat. (Presumably, the guests get the antidote in time.) It’s understandable why this ending was cut from the film, but it’s interesting to read. The film of it is apparently lost, since it’s never reappeared on any of the DVDs of the movie. 

Speaking of endings, why isn’t there a “Colonel Mustard did it” ending? There’s a lot of suspicion thrown towards his character during the film, and he’s also connected to two of the victims. But I digress.

The Storybook also features the original version of the “Mrs. Peacock did it” ending, which ends with her getting shot by the Chief. This was changed at some point. But the Storybook has Mrs. Peacock encounter the Chief, who she still thinks is a religious beatnik, outside of the mansion. He persuades her to put her gun down, and then just as she gets to her car she asks, “How did you know my name?” “He laughed. Then he picked up the revolver and shot Mrs. Peacock dead.” (p.54) Yikes! Shooting an unarmed suspect is a pretty harsh end for Mrs. Peacock. The novel has Mrs. Peacock put her gun down, but also makes it clear that she is still alive after she’s arrested by the police. I wonder if Mrs. Peacock’s getting shot is the reason for Mr. Green referring to her in the past tense in this classic exchange:

Wadsworth: “You see, like the Mounties, we always get our man.”
Mr. Green: “Mrs. Peacock was a man??”
(Colonel Mustard and Wadsworth both slap Mr. Green) 

Clue: The Storybook is entertaining for diehard fans of the movie like myself, and it will definitely make you want to watch the movie again, so you can experience it with the jokes.