Ben's Reviews > The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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's review
Mar 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories, american-lit
Read from March 17 to May 11, 2011

First of all, I really appreciated Bruccoli's collection. The introduction is personable and informative and the small explanations before each story help to place the writer within his context.

Some might say that so many stories might become drab. How much rich whining and "poor in spirit" can one take? I think this is something we take for granted now. Then, before and after the Crash and The Great Depression, when the national identity and arrogance was wrapped up in the frivolity of day-to-day vacationing and swollen bank accounts, such a view on the "Rich" was either inconsequential, beyond surface acknowledgement, or pure fantasy and scholastic foreplay. I think it unfair to discount Fitzgerald's perspective and clarity of mind simply because of his subject matter.

As was so poignantly captured in "Dearly Beloved", youth was the strength of Fitzgerald's understanding. Not the physical vigor or potential prowess of it, but the dreaming and looking to a better day. But what better day is there than being in youth? it's one plague the distraction toward the future. Perhaps Fitzgerald tried to remain in his youth, much to his own disillusionment.

This was an excellent collection, an excellent read and I feel I now know the writer and would tell anyone that I prefer his short stories to his novels.
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Quotes Ben Liked

F. Scott Fitzgerald
“If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter--as indissolubly as if they were conceived together.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Short Stories

Reading Progress

03/17/2011 page 0
0.0% "Gonna interrupt my reading of this one intermittently with other novels but I've always wanted to get through all the stories"
03/17/2011 page 25
3.0% ""Head and Shoulders" - a nice story about love's naivety turned strong-willed and resolves in unintentional and depressing circumstances. Horace might be gratified in becoming what he envied BEFORE meeting Marcia, but he rather envies how Marcia stumbles upon her identity, "stolen" from him, when their life together is established. A tale of opposites not only attracting, but transferring and transforming."
03/17/2011 page 48
6.0% "I loved the ending of "Bernice Bobs Her Hair"! Fitzgerald describes women searching for social popularity but it proves to be a dangerous quest with "success" based on the whims of others. It could be construed as a feminist tragedy since Bernice, who doesn't have vigorous qualities, falls victim to Marjorie's madness. The dark fog hovering around the story gives the reader an idea of FSF's feelings on the matter."
03/17/2011 page 70
9.0% "I have dozens left to read, but "The Ice Palace" is my favorite so far. Fitzgerald's style forcefully boasts of its superiority with a sympathetic tone for the Southern spirit. The culture of the North is a rudely industrial and lifeless character compared to the lackadaisical yet spirited character of the South. The climax is unmercifully chilling but the resolution brings a spring thaw to a sweltering summer daze."
03/17/2011 page 97
12.0% ""The Offshore Pirate" is sublimely entertaining, almost of a Shakespearean quality. I don't know how much I'd like to dig into it except to say that Fitzgerald designs exceptional heroines who seem to throw off social convention with ease for the sake of a weightless, unburdened freedom of spirit and character. The men seem powerless to affect their own fates from the feminine influence."
04/09/2011 page 272
34.0% ""Absolution" that was a dark one. What starts as a seeming loss of innocence and God for a boy ends with the crushing weight of others' sins on an old priest. But dark, really dark..."
04/09/2011 page 302
38.0% ""The Sensible Thing" - It seems sad but is so true! I don't find myself disliking Joquil or sympathizing much with George. George could have gone after whatever fortune while with her, but it seemed to take their split to spark him. Was it right to expect her to go along with that kind of passivity? An odd romance. I've never been okay with love failing but I am somehow after this story."
04/10/2011 page 317
40.0% ""Love in the Night" - An quizzical look at romance and its affiliations with particular nationalities. Of course, Americans, being younger in the world, lack the respect for romance that is owned by France, Russia and England. And the shared heritage of Val symbolically brings the demise of his own awareness of romance. But in the end, does it matter?"
04/14/2011 page 372
47.0% ""Jacob's Ladder" - For once, the feminine presence is moldable but unfortunately for the male character, uncontrollable. She has a benign, innocent nature which contrasts the innocent motives behind the man's assistance to her. But his fault was in only seeing her as is, really denying her any true agency of her own. It ended well, to me, but to them it was rough, no doubt."
04/14/2011 page 390
49.0% ""A Short Trip Home" - now THAT one was weird. I commend the attempt, Scotty, but I think you were a bit out of your element. I'm sure you thought it was fun, though."
04/14/2011 page 412
52.0% ""The Bowl" - I can see how athletes would relate to pressures of triumph, the irrelevance of your feelings toward the game, the addiction of winning. But from this story I see a quiet tragedy, the death of a soul murdered by transient glory."
04/15/2011 page 431
54.0% ""The Captured Shadow" - I liked the language of this one. It lacked the melodramatic use of unnecessary words, as other stories have. But it made up for it with the melodrama of a sort of coming of age theme. Maybe that's unfair since the plot would seem overly consequential to a boy of that age. And I can relate to that."
04/15/2011 page 449
56.0% ""Basil and Cleopatra" - I'm starting to sympathize wholly with these women. The men are so DESPERATE! These poor females can't do anything to please themselves because of these sniveling, heart-sick men!"
04/15/2011 page 464
58.0% ""The Last of the Belles" - Seriously, these poor women living in a man's world, judged by men's eyes. And they try and make these men understand, these romantic men who try and force everything into the tupperware of their plans and ego. Let women choose what's best for themselves without burdening them with the responsibility of YOUR meltdown."
04/15/2011 page 481
60.0% ""Majesty" - Now that's more like it..."
04/15/2011 page 495
62.0% ""At My Age" - EXCELLENT concluding paragraph. Just when I thought this was about the agelessness of youth, or something silly like that. A surface reading might reveal yet another sappy, manipulative, selfishly romantic man. Which maybe there is. But the reasons are different."
04/29/2011 page 513
64.0% ""The Swimmers" - I liked this one because of its illustration of America in contrast with Europe. It paints America as a society not without it's faults, but not without its virtues. And a man can live and raise children by those virtues, dodging those faults, if has a "willingness of the heart"."
04/29/2011 page 531
66.0% ""Two Wrongs" - If this is truly autobiographical, Scott just ripped himself a new one. And I'm not convinced Emmy (Zelda) did wrong by abandoning him. He wants her by his side during the consequence of his behavior, she wants to take a chance for her own dream, but they both say the opposite to each other. His wrong was his treatment of her, and hers is choosing her own life? Hmm..."
04/30/2011 page 546
68.0% ""First Blood" - Like Basil, we now have a female protagonist who, seemingly like Rosalind from This Side of Paradise, is full of conceit and talented at the social game of love and control. But she's so pathetic, like a politician twisting a perspective on reality even though people see through it."
04/30/2011 page 561
70.0% ""Emotional Bankruptcy" - Fitz touched on this theme in Paradise, the idea of spending all of one's finite amount of emotions and virtue; how conceit and love games will eventually leave a person empty of anything to give the one they would have spent the rest of their life with. I was ironically sympathetic for her, despite thinking originally that she got what she deserved."
04/30/2011 page 577
72.0% ""The Bridal Party" - Oh, such sweet irony. But I really liked the end here. If it had been any different, the protagonist would have been victim of his own judgmental glare."
05/01/2011 page 598
75.0% ""One Trip Aboard" - Reminiscent of Tender is the Night, Europe beats the aspirations of the expatriate. Maybe it's not Europe, but themselves. It read like Tender too...ugh"
05/01/2011 page 616
77.0% ""The Hotel Child" - I think I would handle expatriation different than these people. But then again maybe it would beat me too, if none of my plans worked out. Maybe I'd get bored, though I doubt taken advantage of. Not sure And I think the idea of American naivety being extorted by Europeans has changed since Fitz's day."
05/01/2011 page 634
79.0% ""Babylon Revisited" - This is a good one, simply constructed and articulated; from the heart. A story of emptiness in boom times and crash times. But the determination to hold on to what's important. The ghost town of expatriation and her citizen's soul."
05/09/2011 page 648
81.0% ""A New Leaf" - A bit more shallow than the others, as far as characters are concerned. Or maybe it's just that Julia is unconvincing. How does one not see that an addict can trade his vice for a person. He's still an addict...nothing changes."
05/10/2011 page 667
83.0% ""A Freeze-Out" - This one is good, with a protagonist I can truly cheer for! It poses the injustice, if not American hypocrisy, of family social hierarchies and judging an offspring by the deeds of the father. Again, Fitz uses high-class characters only to illustrate their ridiculousness."
05/10/2011 page 680
85.0% ""Six to One - " - Another good one...written in the early thirties so the sense of renewal, the passing of one generation to another, is prevalent. But this one also speaks to the question of an equal start leading to equal opportunity and of what success really is."
05/11/2011 page 698
87.0% ""What A Handsome Pair!" - Interesting characters. And the insights into life with Scott and Zelda - I wonder what it would look like through her eyes?"
05/11/2011 page 714
89.0% ""Crazy Sunday" - Eh...I liked his insights into Stella's reactions, and the idea that distrust can make you question the most permanent things. But it wasn't very gripping...kind of dragged."
05/11/2011 page 734
92.0% ""More Than Just A House" - The composition (characters, setting, symbols) is very clear, orderly but the "point" escapes me. At first I wondered who was actually being saved...and I'm still wondering. But maybe that's not the point."
05/11/2011 page 739
92.0% ""Afternoon of an Author" - The first story, or more like a third-person POV diary entry, where the protagonist has no name. One gets a clear feeling that Fitz is on the decline...becoming hollow."
05/11/2011 page 747
93.0% ""Financing Finnegan" - With narrative remnants of Gatsby, this one is a bit sattirical and perhaps ill-humored. Again, at this point in Fitz's career, he's becoming quite harsh on himself."
05/11/2011 page 751
94.0% ""The Lost Decade" - Regret your bout with alcoholism much, Fitzy?"
05/11/2011 page 757
95.0% ""Boil some water! - Lots of it!" - I'm not really taking to his Hollywood stories. Looks like Last Tycoon is gonna be a bit of a chore, when I get to it."
05/11/2011 page 773
97.0% ""Last Kiss" - Fitz's style has become less grandiose, and the story shines all the better. This was the first Hollywood story I liked. And perhaps all his stories are just of type-casted players rehashing the same trivial pursuits, and Fitz knows it. This has the same tone."
05/11/2011 page 775
97.0% ""Dearly Beloved" - Awesome. Perfect. Poetic. Summarily wise. With stylistic seeping from Hemingway and Stein. Changed my overall opinion on Fitz."
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Aylin Fitzgerald can write. He had insight into the perils of privilege.

message 2: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Aylin wrote: "Fitzgerald can write. He had insight into the perils of privilege."

Agreed, I have some issues with his style, especially when compared to Hemingway (I think there's a compromise somewhere between the two). But I think you're right about his insights. And now, people take that for granted that he introduced a somewhat epiphanic perspective on the sadness and farce of the rich lifestyle.

message 3: by Fateh (last edited Mar 16, 2015 05:57AM) (new)

Fateh Mann "a short trip home" - I so agree with you. I was reading and in a couple of places I noticed that hey, he is actually building up tension here. Ia little while later the thought first came to me- is he actually trying to write a ghost story?

He definitely did seem a little out of his element- Ita difficult to build up tension by using such elaborate words and sentences unless you're Edgar Allan Poe or Lovecraft.

Or maybe he never intended this story to be suspense/horror

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