The title essay, "The Crack-Up," was first published in Esquire magazine in 1936 and provides the heart of the essay collection published under its name. The opening line is "Of course all life is a process of breaking down." The piece is autobiographical and deeply personal, perhaps the rawest expression Fitzgerald ever created of himself as a person and writer. He offers general observations about this process of breaking down and specifically interrogates his own crack-up. The piece is written in essay form and is loosely structured, making it informal. It is usually considered part of a series with two other essays he published in Esquire in 1936: "Handle with Care" and "Pasting it Together." These essays are distinguished by Fitzgerald's piercing self-awareness and confessional tone. In them, he is admitting to the public that he is washed up as a writer and empty and broken as a human being. I would recommend not just reading these three essays but the entire book, as it offers more context for his feelings and for his thoughts on writing.
The Crack-Up is a posthumous collection of work by F. Scott Fitzgerald complied by Edmund Wilson and published by New Directions in 1945. The theme of the book, which is made up of his essays, letters, and notes, is Fitzgerald's breakdown or crack-up, which was brought on by years of heavy drinking, his wife Zelda's mental illness for which she was eventually institutionalized, and his inability to duplicate the great successes of his first novels and stories.