F. Scott Fitzgerald – Long Time Online Reading Buds Can Say “I told you so”

 

For many years I proclaimed that F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s work didn’t interest me and I avoided it. I knew I wouldn’t like it. (Hear the snickers?)

Finally about a year and a half ago the stars aligned in such a way that I borrowed a copy of The Great Gatsby to listen to in the car. I was reluctant, but it fit a couple criteria I was wanting at the time. After finishing the book I revised my opinion of Fitzgerald’s work. (The snickers get a bit louder.)

A new movie came out a few weeks ago that caught my attention, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I immediately thought of the book I enjoyed so much a few years ago, The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer. I wondered if Benjamin Button was a revised version of Max Tivoli so did my librarian thing and did some research. Benjamin Button was originally a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Me, being me, had to find the short story. I recommend Max Tivoli all the time (it’s a well done, poignant book) and wanted to read the short story that helped spark the novel almost 100 years later. So I put Before Gatsby on hold at the library. It’s a collection of “the first twenty-six stories” by Fitzgerald (written or published? I didn’t check). Again, this is me. I didn’t just flip to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I started reading from the beginning.

These stories may be Fitzgerald’s early work, but they demonstrate the quality of the writer (now the snickers are loud chuckles – they told me so). Somewhere in the introduction it is mentioned that these stories are dated because they rely on the themes of the Jazz Age in the 1920’s America. In one way that is true. Fortunately each story comes with an explanation of terms to help the modern reader understand the allusions. In another way, these stories are timeless. Because while times and environment change, people don’t. There are few women who haven’t met the mean-spirited Marjorie from Bernice Bobs Her Hair. I was glad Bernice gave her a come uppance at the end of the story. Then there’s the pathos at the end of Head and Shoulders that rings so true. I’ve enjoyed the humor of The Camel’s Back and the irony of The Cut Glass Bowl. In some of them I just don’t get the point – in my opinion you can skip Mr. Icky. But for the most part I now understand why my fellow reading friends told me to try Fitzgerald.

I did and I’m glad of it.

(Some one else has the book on hold at the library and it’s due tomorrow. I guess I’m paying a late fine because The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the last story and I’m not there yet.)

One Comment

  1. Comment by Aravis:

    I read The Great Gatsby in high school, and was ambivalent about it. As I recall, I found Daisy annoying. But then, it was a forced reading. That probably tainted my perception. Maybe I’ll read it again someday with fresh eyes.