Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Short Autobiography” as Want to Read:
A Short Autobiography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Short Autobiography

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  39 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Short Autobiography, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Short Autobiography

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Tosh
Jun 03, 2013 Tosh 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
...more
Michael
Mar 10, 2012 Michael 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
...more
Sierra Sitzes
Aug 19, 2013 Sierra Sitzes rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
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
Dee
Jun 03, 2014 Dee 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!
Karen
Nov 11, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
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 Wendy S. rated it really liked it
"What I Think and Feel at 25" is my personal favorite.
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 Josh Lewis 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
Dale
Mar 14, 2012 Dale 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
Candace
Mar 11, 2013 Candace 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
...more
Melissa
Oct 05, 2011 Melissa 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
...more
Christine Rebbert
Aug 26, 2013 Christine Rebbert 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
T.E.
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
Sera
Dec 09, 2011 Sera 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
...more
Matt Thomas
Mar 03, 2012 Matt Thomas 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
Jennifer
Nov 18, 2016 Jennifer 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
Olivia
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 Joe Mossa 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.
Megan
Dec 15, 2014 Megan 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 Diane Heath 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.
Kate
Aug 25, 2011 Kate 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.
Stacy
Feb 26, 2012 Stacy rated it it was amazing
This collection was put together by my favorite English professor, so I'm a bit biased. That being said, if you're already a Fitzgerald fan, you'll love a behind the scenes look into his writing and state of mind. If you aren't yet a Fitzgerald fan, these wise, unflinching, and still timely essays will most likely inspire you to seek out his work.
W.T.
Mar 31, 2013 W.T. rated it really liked it
I've spent a lot of years reading literature and classics and there is a near, slight embarrassment when I admit that I've never read anything by F. Scott. Additionally, all I know of the man is from what I have read about his contemporaries when they are all lumped together in a discussion.
Personally, I enjoy the idea of reading about the man before I read his work.
Jess
Apr 11, 2013 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-booklist
Since I'm reading a lot about the Fitzgerald's these days, I found reading this to be easier than I thought. Some of the writings were over my head but overall I enjoyed it. Upon finishing, I found the annotations in the back that explained the pop culture and other references of that time.
Claudia
Mar 25, 2012 Claudia rated it did not like it
I did not expect to review a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald with just one sad star because he is my favorite author. To sum up my experience, it was torture reading through his personal short stories. I only enjoyed about three of them. For the future, I would much rather read his novels.
Matt
Mar 17, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
a series of well-crafted autobiographical vignettes, mostly magazine pieces from the 20s and 30s; witty, self-deprecating, and even wistful and elegiac at times; reflections on his generation, and his infamous spending habits.
Waladosia
May 10, 2012 Waladosia rated it really liked it
I should preface this review by mentioning that I am madly in love with f. Scott Fitzgerald, so I may be a bit biased. I really enjoyed 90% of the essays. I will admit that a few of them were rather drab and beneath him but seeing as it is all we really have to go on in way of memoir, I'll take it.
Kristine Kucera
Aug 27, 2011 Kristine Kucera rated it liked it
It was ok. I liked the biographical narratives the best. Didn't care as much for the observations and lectures. Really liked the style of writing and choice of words though...
Jeffrey Kastin
Sep 09, 2015 Jeffrey Kastin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Enjoyed the book but there are some formatting problems. Publisher please fix and get better proofreaders Readability is important right?
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Shakespeare of London
  • Monsieur Proust's Library
  • The Victorian Age in Literature
  • Headlong Hall
  • Mrs. Dalloway's Party: A Short Story Sequence
  • The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report
  • On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History
  • Henry James: A Life
  • On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
  • Hitler: The Pathology of Evil
  • A White House Diary
  • Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Concise Biography of Adolf Hitler
  • Heads and Straights: The Circle Line
  • The School
  • Presidential Anecdotes
  • Hawthorne: A Life
  • Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson
3190
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
More about F. Scott Fitzgerald...

Share This Book



“...he told me all the things he liked to THINK he thought in the misty past.” 2 likes
“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.” 2 likes
More quotes…