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On Booze

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,120 ratings  ·  120 reviews
“First you take a drink,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once noted, “then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” Fitzgerald wrote alcohol into almost every one of his stories. On Booze gathers debutantes and dandies, rowdy jazz musicians, lost children and ragtime riff-raff into a newly compiled collection taken from The Crack-Up, and other works never before published by New Directi ...more
Paperback, 86 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by New Directions
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Disparate pieces, linked not by beverages but ennui. This was a Christmas gift from Joel. I enjoyed The Crack-Up, the piece on travel, the meditation on insomnia and especially My Lost City.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe physician’s notes, like the psychiatrist in the liner notes for The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. There’s an odd juxtaposition: Fitzgerald and Mingus.

This slim collection abounds with lyricism and despair.
Stephanie Austin
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I could spend my life pulling quotes out of this little ditty.

"On the side of the bed I put my head in my hands. Then silence, silence--and suddenly--or so it seems in retrospect--suddenly I am asleep. Sleep--real sleep, the dear, the cherished one, the lullaby. So deep and warm the bed and the pillow enfolding me, letting me sink into peace--nothingness--my dreams now, after the catharsis of the dark hours, are of young and lovely people doing young, lovely things...."

The stu
May 03, 2013 rated it it was ok

Not quite as funny, wise, vivid, or interesting as you'd think it might be.

A lot of it is recycled (obviously) but it's some vague, mildly amusing letters mixed in with long passages from The Crack-Up (which I've already read before) and this doth not a FSF compendium of booze ruminations make....

There is this, though:

"When he urinated, it sounded like a night prayer."

Two stars. That last quote just made it under the one-star gun.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
The longest section of this very short novel was, unfortunately, what I found to be the most boring part. However, while boring, it's still written by Fitzgerald and still, therefore, has beautiful imagery. I read it fluidly and lazily, like a poem. I just listened to the rhythm and the sound instead of focusing on the details of all the hotels he and Zelda stayed in over several years.

I'll have to reread this after I've read more Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, I've only tackled The Grea
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it on the basis that it was a collection of Fitzgerald's writings, but it did kind of feel like the editors did a Find-Replace of his work for anything that mentioned the words "drink" "gin" "drunk" "booze" etc., and copy-pasted them together to make a book. The back said it was his thoughts and experiences with drinking, and yet some stories would be 5, 10 pages and only mention the narrator sipping a drink at some point. So it was a little random in that respect. I think "The Crack-U ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you're Fitzgerald's biggest fan, then by all means, read this book. The bit about their travels was cute and atmospheric enough, but it still felt like a collection of drafts for "setting the scene" in some proper writing. The rest of it was insufferably full of pseudo-profound ennui. Hard pass from my side.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I had discovered the crowning error of the city, its Pandora's box. Full of vaunting pride the New Yorker had climbed here, and seen with dismay what he had never suspected (..) And with that awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe, the whole shining edifice that he had reared in his imagination came crashing to the ground."
Big love for Fitzgerald.
May Ling
I typically am not a huge fan of Fitzgerald, but I loved loved loved this collection. Half of it is written in an inebriated state and might I add, I would happily of drank with F. Scott were he alive today. “Selections from Notebooks” are fantastic quibs that make the modern mind wonder… what if F. Scott had a twitter account. “Selections from letters” shows his ability to be rather eloquently direct, supportive, and critical of his dearest, talented friends. I especially adore that half his wo ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it

I felt that this book was an excuse for editors to stick random parts of Fitzgerald's work that ever mentioned the word drink or alcohol, not necessarily writings about drinking or Fitzgerald's alcoholism. However, I think the book redeems itself in at it seems to look directly into Fitzgerald's psyche. "the Crack Up" is a 3 part autobiographical piece where fitzgerald describes a nervous breakdown and a desire to avoid contact with former relations. "Show Mr. And Mrs. F To..." is another autob
Abbi Dion
"Drunk at 20, wrecked at 30, dead at 40.
Drunk at 21, human at 31, mellow at 41, dead at 51."

"Debut: the first time a young girl is seen drunk in public."

I made a note during "My Lost City" -- "Major problem with FSF's writing: relies heavily on privileged anedcotes, knowlege and interest in the gossip of a society we care little about--particularly because the gossip is of the most mundane variety. From this tale, I pulled the beauty: "All is lost save memory, yet s
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Review first posted on BookLikes:

On Booze...I wish I had been when reading this.

This is a collection of short stories and fragments of Fitzgerald's notes and unfinished pieces. It's not polished and when reading it I could not help but feel that this was thrown together by an editor to create a freebie book to go with a re-issue of FSF's novels.

If you are a die hard fan, the short stories
Oct 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Seems silly to offer caveats about an affordable little book of winning pieces by an American giant, but here goes: everything contained within can also be found in The Crack-Up, which is also readily available from New Directions even if it won't fit in your pocket. Also the title is misleading; maybe a third of the pieces are about booze per se, the rest simply chart vaguely booze-related topics: insomnia, travel, and the changing nature of Manhattan social life.
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
i can't get over how beautiful this book is. from the slim design, to the matted textured cover, to the well thought out selections. it's a pleasure to read and reminds me why i love holding books. to feel their weight between my fingertips.
Charlie Scudder
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Write drunk, edit sober.
Arya Oveissi
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
My rating does not reflect how interesting this book is. Yes, the stories themselves were lacking, but reading a clearly intoxicated Fitzgerald was rather enjoyable. Often I was unsure of what exactly was going on in each piece, but as I kept reading, I could see what Fitzgerald was aiming to do. “Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number—“ is an interesting idea in theory, but the execution didn’t do Fitzgerald’s intention (or at least what I think his intention was) justice. In my opinion, this story was ...more
Mike Andrelczyk
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Much of this was published in the early to mid-30s in magazines such as Esquire. Includes “Selections from the Notebooks,” “The Crack-Up,” “Show Mr. and Mrs. F to Number ——,” “Sleeping and Waking,” “My Lost City” and “Selections from the Letters.” This high-proof shot of Fitzgerald’s work contains jokes, sketches, correspondences and recollections fueled by alcohol or its effects such as hangovers, insomnia, nerves, euphoria, disillusion and joy. I would’ve liked more pages of notes like these: ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
There were parts of this I enjoyed, certain reflections I related to. I’ve been feeling these things, but haven’t been able to put those feelings into words, and it’s really special when you find someone who has done that for you.

That being said, I don’t think I’ll remember much of this book. Most of what was written here, it seems, was never meant to be published, and there was likely a reason for that. I may go back to the portions about depression or insomnia, but I felt like thos
David  Cremades
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for any New Yorker. Great retrospectives that most probably blur the lines of reality and fiction. Touching on the disillusionment of a plateauing successful career, issues with age and life expectations, travel diaries and the relationship one has with home (whether one is living there often or not). The book is clearly not for everyone. It's just a gem for those who can relate.
Teffie Palacio
Apr 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
i feel like it's more disrespectful to pry into a man's journals and pull out random quotes, then curate them to highlight his alcoholism than it would've been for his estate to just run out of money...this book is such an insult to someone's memory.

that one section on how insomnia has 2 sleeps was cool, but not worth this publication.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
After using the restroom at Barnes & Noble, I felt I had to make a purchase so bought this book. I spent my day off reading this on and off around town and enjoyed it. The tone and imagery gave mini snapshots of his other stories; nostalgic if you've read them or perhaps intrigue if you haven't.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
thoroughly enjoyed every story in this but the second one, but still i'd recommend!! they're all short enough to be palatable and not overwhelming, especially if you just want an introduction to the climate of the jazz age and his writing that isn't Gatsby.
Luis Celhay
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite story was (they are all good) “My Lost City”. A brief short painting of NYC (in the 1920’s?).
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is essentially a collection of short stories with some other writing sprinkled in. I rather enjoyed the letters, though I am sure there are more complete collections out there.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mundane. All the flourish of his usual writing style with none of the excitement of fiction.
Bailey Hull
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it
Quick read, but an absolutely magical read.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: food-drink
I read most of this in line at an amusement park and it was a breezy delight about boozing.
Darren Lipomi
May 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
High-brow, incoherent, and false advertising.
An Bui
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not really about alcohol or alcoholism at all, but a candid and occasionally funny introspection of his mind and memories; honest and flowing, no doubt with the help of a drink or two.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
The content is good, but it feels like a poorly curated edition.
Matthew Bonn
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A short collection of stories that only have a semblance of booze-related themes. Some of the writing is absolutely beautiful, but the collection lacks any true overall cohesion.
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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 unfinished, and ...more
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“I only wanted absolute quiet to think out why I had developed a sad attitude toward sadness, a melancholy attitude toward melancholy and a tragic attitude toward tragedy — why I had become identified with the objects of my horror or compassion.” 11 likes
“I saw that for a long time I had not liked people and things, but only followed the rickety old pretense of liking. I saw that even my love for those closest to me was become only an attempt to love, that my casual relations — with an editor, a tobacco seller, the child of a friend, were only what I remembered I should do, from other days.” 7 likes
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