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A Short Autobiography

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A self-portrait of a great writer. A Short Autobiography charts Fitzgerald's progression from exuberant and cocky with "What I think and Feel at 25", to mature and reflective with "One Hundred False Starts" and "The Death of My Father." Compiled and edited by Professor James West, this revealing collection of personal essays and articles reveals the beloved author in his o ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Scribner
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3.68  · 
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 ·  354 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
A collection of pieces that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote for various publications that the editor James L. W. West put together showing his memoir writing. What's fascinating to me was that Fitzgerald was extremely famous at the time of these articles - so he conveys himself as a character that the public already knows about. In a sense he's a performer in his own writing.

Some pieces are better then others but still all of them are interesting. All you get is really a snapshot but filtered through
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Mostly worthless.

A bit of a Fitzgerald yard sale, this loosely thematic collection gathers together 19 ostensibly autobiographical pieces. I say "loosely" because most were written for a quick buck when FSF needed to pay the bills, so that the lion's share of the pieces ("essays" is too lofty a term for these sketches) read like throwaway of-the-moment glosses on, say, modern "girls" (tellingly not "women"). Thick with name checks and given to a self-indulgently chatty tone that has worn very b
Sierra Sitzes
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction
I picked up my copy of this book at the infamous Shakespeare and Company in Paris this summer. I figured, being at one of the Lost Generation's creative epicenters, I might as well buy a book about the writers rather than the novels themselves. (Plus, I own most of Fitzgerald's work anyway.) I expected to gain a better understanding of Fitzgerald, his generation, and the thought behind his writing. I did not expect the impact this collection of essays would have on my own awareness as a writer. ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This book consisted of several short stories and essays which Fitzgerald had written during his career. Every piece was unique and provided insight into some aspect of Fitzgerald's character. All I can say is, he was an extremely hilarious and talented man!
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
Many of the essays in here have been included in other works, so they are not exactly new, but it was fun to read them all together. They seem to be arranged chronologically so it was also nice to watch the writing style change over Fitzgerald's career.
Wendy S.
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
"What I Think and Feel at 25" is my personal favorite.
Mark Taylor
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s non-fiction writings are not as famous as his novels and short stories, but they contain some superb pieces that shed light on the life of this fascinating author. One reason that might explain why Fitzgerald’s non-fiction writings are less well-known is that they have been scattered all over the place. It would be wonderful to have one volume that collected all of his major non-fiction pieces in one place.

A Short Autobiography, edited by Fitzgerald scholar James L.W. West
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it

Before I start this review, allow me to make a note that I have been completely in love Fitzgerald's work since I was 15. I have an extensive collection of Fitzgerald, from his novels to nearly every short story he has written. In addition, I was happy to find this book which has a compilation of news articles and columns he's written throughout his career. The beginning of the book had me completely in awe and starstruck because it was different from anything I have read from him. It was person

Erin Quinney
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Autobiography" is a bit of a misnomer, but these essays do paint a picture of the man, if only a particularly blurry one. Fitzgerald frequently wrote just for the paycheck. There's, of course, nothing wrong with that, but it does call authenticity into question if a person has to write what will sell. Nevertheless, his talent is certainly obvious. Then, I already knew that.

A few of these essays were very good and relevant in this climate of disillusionment. Some were amusing. The last one summ
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
It was so nice to read something that made me feel nostalgic -- F. Scott Fitzgerald was such a big part of my teenage years, and now my adulthood as well. Reading several short bits of prose relating to his own growing pains as a young adult were incredibly reassuring and relatable. Reading about the disconnect that he, too, felt between generations and people as a whole was good to see -- for the world works on a cycle, and I find comfort in that promise.

Reading this book was like sitting down
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought this at the Shakespeare & company bookshop in Paris. It started out very good, and I enjoyed reading about his thoughts about his wife and daughter. However, it just seems like a collection of articles, which don’t all seem autobiographical. There is also one point where there is just a list of drinks he has tried. . . I understand it was the prohibition, but 3 pages of a drinks list didn’t seem very autobiographical.
Lisa Zacks
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This "autobiography" is a collection of articles written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the 1920's-1930's, put together to create an autobiography. While it was interesting reading about some moments in Fitzgerald's life in his own words, in general the articles did not reveal much. I was disappointed...
Christine Edwards
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
So not really an autobiography. It's more like reading another one of his short story collections, but the stories aren't as good. That being said, I did enjoy the insight into his life and thoughts. It was compiled well and was a good read.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
Wonderful insight into the mind of Fitzgerald. I really enjoyed the pieces on child rearing.
Erika Dreifus
“At the time of his death, Fitzgerald [1896-1940] had not published an autobiographical work of any sort – something almost unimaginable in today’s climate. Now James L.W. West III, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, has gathered 19 personal essays written from 1920 to 1940 and arranged them chronologically to disclose Fitzgerald’s life story. From ‘What I Think and Feel at 25′ to ‘One Hundred False Starts,’ these essays would seem to serve as an intellectua ...more
Josh Lewis
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
There are many memorable essays in this compilation, especially in its latter half, and one does catch a good snippet of Fitzgerald's life through them. For instance, one can see a stark difference between the man wrote "An Interview with Mr. Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald" and the one who authored "Author's House." The former was written shortly after the success of Fitzgerald's first novel and was bright-eyed and self-indulgent; in contrast, the latter looked back on a life filled with fail ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Fitzgerald is a tough one to critically review: I feel like his books shimmer on my shelf, full of art deco design and illegal liquor and cigarette holders. There's an allure there that you want to live inside, even when there's also shallowness, pettiness, and depression. That said, I'm quite immune when there's this little to draw you in. I agree with those who say there are some later gems and some moments of brilliance in the earlier works, but I really don't think these even remotely compar ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
My favorites were "What I Think and Feel at 25," and "One Hundred False Starts."

"...I might as well declare that the chief thing I've learned so far is: If you don't know much--well, nobody else knows much more. And nobody knows half as much about your own interests as you know.
If you believe in anything very strongly--including yourself--and if you go after that thing alone, you end up in jail, in heaven, in the headlines, or in the largest house on the block, according to what you started aft
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not really a biography so much as insight into Fitzgerald's way of thinking.I enjoyed the humorous essays much more than some of the others that spoke to his general disillusionment. He peppered his writing with a lot of references to popular figures of his time that I did not know - I'm glad his novels refrain from this, for the most part. Since most of these pieces were written for magazines, the pop culture was most likely appropriate.

Still, it's not really a biography. You can only make gues
Christine Rebbert
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
A collection of essays in an autobiographical vein, written during the years he was between 20 and 40. My favorite ones were "How to Live on $36,000 A Year" followed by "How to Live on Practically Nothing a Year"; in the one, he's amazed to find they spent that much in one year, but trying to economize -- primarily by moving to Europe, where he's told one can live on next to nothing -- doesn't really pan out either. Some have not "aged" well. Some pieces were first published in popular mainstrea ...more
Read this because I really wanted to re-read "This Side of Paradise," but I left it in my dorm over the holidays so I made do with this. Not half bad, I guess; I like Fitzgerald every so often in decent doses. His essays are, however, rather vastly inferior to his fiction, and he's still a bit of a stuck up, sad little twerp who needs to settle down. Also, his humor is--not humorous. It's got a sort of forced gaiety to it like some kind of vaudeville show or something. I dunno. He's not very fun ...more
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, library
I really enjoyed this compilation of essays by Fitz. I admit that I have a bit of a crush on him, because he was a very witty and clever man, who happened to look good, too. I found some of his takes on the role of women as mothers and how to parent to be very interesting, albeit aloof and a cynical. I also enjoyed reading about how difficult it was for him to write.

The only flaw was that there wasn't much about Zelda.

I wouldn't call this an autobiography but the book does give some good insigh
Matt Thomas
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a collection of Fitzgerald's articles published in the Saturday Evening Post, and other popular magazines of the roaring '20s. Each one provides some insight into the famous author, characterizing him as egomaniacal, brilliant, and hopelessly selfish. It contradicted the portrait I had formed of Fitzgerald after reading The Great Gatsby so many times. I was hoping for introspective; courageous; caring; someone able to grow beyond a narcissistic self-image constructed at the age of 12. I ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a great collection of personal essays by F. Scott Fitzgerald that he published in various magazines and newspapers in the '20s and '30s. There were a couple of essays that were so overburdened with cultural and political references that even with the annotations it was hard to make heads or tails of them. The essays about the craft of writing were revelatory and I loved them. I'm not sure what I love more - reading works by authors I love or reading about the writing process of authors ...more
So this one's complicated because it claims to be an autobiography, but is really a collection put together of his essays and such because Fitzy never wrote an autobiography (his publisher wouldn't accept it - stupid). So there were some that were very intriguing and enjoyable to read; others, I couldn't really connect to the content or what he was saying. Regardless, did give me some insight into this great writer.
Joe Mossa
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it

this is a taste of his non fiction. it s not an autobiography. he talks of his struggles being a writer and the difficulties of writing to earn money. Like Virginia Woolf he says ..all you need to earn money is a pencil and some paper.. I like that concept and wish I could do so with my many writings. but, although i consider myself to be a writer, i never rewrite. thus, i have many handwritten journals which no one but me can read. i wished i would have typed them years ago.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some essays were better than others, but overall I loved this book simply because I love Fitzgerald. He was clever and gifted with incredible insight, and didn't spare himself or his peers from his sharp analysis and criticisms. Fitzgerald also possessed an unmatched wit that shines through in his non-fiction essays.
Diane Heath
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This "autobiography" is actually a collection of essays/short stories from F Scott Fitzgerald. Knowing him only because of The Great Gatsby, I found some of the essays of interest and quite fun while others seemed a bit slow. His essays re: Living on $36,000 a Year and Living on Nothing were more autobiogtaphical in nature and fun to read.
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a fun little book for a Fitzgerald fan (like me), but not as advertised: for true autobiography, try "The Crack-Up" or the many wonderful collections of Scott's correspondence (especially "The Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald," which I believe is out of print). This collection is, for the most part, glib magazine work -- clever and well-written, but a far cry from autobiography.
Kevin Kizer
Didn't even know this was out until I saw Scott's doleful eyes staring out at me as I passed by in a bookstore. An interesting read for F. Scott devotees. Not a MUST read, but insightful as to F. Scott's state of mind as he passed from the brilliant energetic young novelist to the bitter 40-something would-be screenwriter.
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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works have been seen as evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he himself allegedly coined. He is regarded as one of the greatest twentieth century writers. Fitzgerald was of the self-styled "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I. He finished four novels, left a fifth unfini ...more
“I want to be able to do anything with words: handle slashing, flaming descriptions like Wells, and use the paradox with the clarity of Samuel Butler, the breadth of Bernard Shaw and the wit of Oscar Wilde, I want to do the wide sultry heavens of Conrad, the rolled-gold sundowns and crazy-quilt skies of Hitchens and Kipling as well as the pastel dawns and twilights of Chesterton. All that is by way of example. As a matter of fact I am a professed literary thief, hot after the best methods of every writer in my generation.” 4 likes
“The decision as to when to quit, as to when one is merely floundering around and causing other people trouble, has to be made frequently in a lifetime. In youth we are taught the rather simple rule never to quit, because we are presumably following programmes made by people wiser than ourselves. My own conclusion is that when one has embarked on a course that grows increasingly doubtful and one feels the vital forces beginning to be used up, it is best to ask advice if decent advice is in range...” 3 likes
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