RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Photograph by Helmut Newton.

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Photograph by Helmut Newton.

From Garbo to Gaga … Coolidge to Obama … Jitterbug to Twitter …

Presenting Vanity Fair 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age.

Buy it on Amazon today! 



Writer Elmore Leonard, who passed away this morning at 87, took V.F.’s signature Proust Questionnaire last December. Here are some of his responses:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being with my best friend, who’s a girl.

What is your favorite journey? Gathering scenes in my head for a book.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Charlie Sheen.
What is it that you most dislike? Someone telling me about his dog.
How would you like to die? Does it make a difference? You’re dead.
What is your motto? “Keep it simple.”

Read more here. 
Illustration by Risko.

Writer Elmore Leonard, who passed away this morning at 87, took V.F.’s signature Proust Questionnaire last December. Here are some of his responses:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being with my best friend, who’s a girl.

What is your favorite journey?
Gathering scenes in my head for a book.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
Charlie Sheen.

What is it that you most dislike?
Someone telling me about his dog.

How would you like to die?
Does it make a difference? You’re dead.

What is your motto?
“Keep it simple.”

Read more here. 

Illustration by Risko.

Testing the Summer’s Best Beach Reads.

Photographs by Justin Bishop

“There is more maturity here and none of the “smartness” which he himself came to deplore.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, reviewed in the July 1925 issue of Vanity Fair.

Christopher Hitchens’s Handwritten Notes in The Great Gatsby

On the heels of Baz Luhrmann’s heady film adaption, see the jottings of a writer who rivaled Fitzgerald himself, as Hitchens prepared for his May 2000 V.F. column “The Road to West Egg.

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“Fitzgerald’s work captures the evaporating memory of the American Eden while connecting it to the advent of the New World of smartness and thuggery and corruption. It was his rite of passage; it is our bridge to the time before “dreams” were slogans. He wanted to call it Among the Ashheaps and Millionaires—thank heaven that his editor, Maxwell Perkins, talked him out of it. It was nearly entitled just plain Gatsby. It remains “the great” because it confronts the defeat of youth and beauty and idealism, and finds the defeat unbearable, and then turns to face the defeat unflinchingly. With The Great Gatsby, American letters grew up.”

Read more from Hitchens here.

Martin, Maggie, and Me
In an excerpt from his memoir, late contributing editor Christopher Hitchens recalls the first time he met Margaret Thatcher: 

Within moments, too, I had turned away and was showing her my buttocks. I suppose that I must give some sort of explanation for this. Almost as soon as we shook hands on immediate introduction, I felt that she knew my name and had perhaps connected it to the socialist weekly that had recently called her rather sexy. While she struggled adorably with this moment of pretty confusion, I felt obliged to seek controversy and picked a fight with her on a detail of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe policy. She took me up on it. I was (as it happened) right on the small point of fact, and she was wrong. But she maintained her wrongness with such adamantine strength that I eventually conceded the point and even bowed slightly to emphasize my acknowledgment. “No,” she said. “Bow lower!” Smiling agreeably, I bent forward a bit farther. “No, no,” she trilled. “Much lower!” By this time, a little group of interested bystanders was gathering. I again bent forward, this time much more self-consciously. Stepping around behind me, she unmasked her batteries and smote me on the rear with the parliamentary order paper that she had been rolling into a cylinder behind her back. I regained the vertical with some awkwardness. As she walked away, she looked over her shoulder and gave an almost imperceptibly slight roll of the hip while mouthing the words “Naughty boy!”

Read more here. 

Martin, Maggie, and Me

In an excerpt from his memoir, late contributing editor Christopher Hitchens recalls the first time he met Margaret Thatcher: 

Within moments, too, I had turned away and was showing her my buttocks. I suppose that I must give some sort of explanation for this. Almost as soon as we shook hands on immediate introduction, I felt that she knew my name and had perhaps connected it to the socialist weekly that had recently called her rather sexy. While she struggled adorably with this moment of pretty confusion, I felt obliged to seek controversy and picked a fight with her on a detail of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe policy. She took me up on it. I was (as it happened) right on the small point of fact, and she was wrong. But she maintained her wrongness with such adamantine strength that I eventually conceded the point and even bowed slightly to emphasize my acknowledgment. “No,” she said. “Bow lower!” Smiling agreeably, I bent forward a bit farther. “No, no,” she trilled. “Much lower!” By this time, a little group of interested bystanders was gathering. I again bent forward, this time much more self-consciously. Stepping around behind me, she unmasked her batteries and smote me on the rear with the parliamentary order paper that she had been rolling into a cylinder behind her back. I regained the vertical with some awkwardness. As she walked away, she looked over her shoulder and gave an almost imperceptibly slight roll of the hip while mouthing the words “Naughty boy!”

Read more here

“Life is not a race course or a competitive examination. At worst it calls for endurance and at best it calls for a certain virtue in one’s dealings with oneself.”

Gore Vidal, 1957

In an unpublished letter to his half-sister, the late writer offers advice on life, his thoughts on JFK, and what it takes to make it into the history books. Read it here.