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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 26, 2008

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About the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St Paul, Minnesota, and went to Princeton University which he left in 1917 to join the army. Fitzgerald was said to have epitomised the Jazz Age, an age inhabited by a generation he defined as ‘grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken’. In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre. Their destructive relationship and her subsequent mental breakdowns became a major influence on his writing. Among his publications were five novels, This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night and The Love of the Last Tycoon (his last and unfinished work): six volumes of short stories and The Crack-Up, a selection of autobiographical pieces. Fitzgerald died suddenly in 1940. After his death The New York Times said of him that ‘He was better than he knew, for in fact and in the literary sense he invented a “generation” … he might have interpreted them and even guided them, as in their middle years they saw a different and nobler freedom threatened with destruction.’

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143105497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105497
  • ASIN: 0143105493
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the major American writers of the twentieth century -- a figure whose life and works embodied powerful myths about our national dreams and aspirations. Fitzgerald was talented and perceptive, gifted with a lyrical style and a pitch-perfect ear for language. He lived his life as a romantic, equally capable of great dedication to his craft and reckless squandering of his artistic capital. He left us one sure masterpiece, The Great Gatsby; a near-masterpiece, Tender Is the Night; and a gathering of stories and essays that together capture the essence of the American experience. His writings are insightful and stylistically brilliant; today he is admired both as a social chronicler and a remarkably gifted artist.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Mullins on January 13, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Longer than a short story, shorter than a novella, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was destined to be lost to everyone except the most ardent F. Scott Fitzgerald fans until Hollywood rescued it and turned it into a film. Intrigued by the trailer, I looked for the story to read before seeing the film. (Not to cost amazon any money, but the full text does exist online).

From what I have seen of the trailer, the film and story differ greatly. Even though Benjamin marries in the story, I don't think his wife (a minor character) occupies the same niche as the Cate Blanchett character in the film.

Fitzgerald speaks of Benjamin in almost fairy tale tones. Scenes aren't described and years are condensed to paragraphs or even sentences. Rather thaw showing scenes from Benjamin's military activities or success on the football field (when he was over 50 years old), Fitzgerald simply states them as fact. Had he so desired, this could have been a 200+ page novel.

It's full of the same quirks that have caused the movie to be one of the most anticipated this year. Like when he is 20 (and looks 50), Fitzgerald tells us he is often mistaken for his father, and when he is 50 (and looks 20), he is often mistaken for his son. Nearly every aspect of his life is told with such mirror bookends, like how his May-December marriage (his wife was 20 and attracted to a man who looked 50) ended up becoming a December-May romance that caused the townsfolk to wonder what a young man was doing with such an old lady.

The story is tricky, poignant and sad, It was impossible to not see Brad Pitt in the role and impossible to not think about how they are going to show him as 80 years old or (sorry Brad) as a teenager. I don't think reading this spoiled anything about the movie for me. If anything, it only makes me want to see it even more.
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Format: Paperback
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) is best known as the premier chronicler of the Jazz Age in such novels as "The Far Side of Paradise"; "The Beautiful and Damned". "The Great Gatsby" and "Tender is the Night." However he was also a short story author churning out stories for popular periodicals of the day such as The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and The Scribner House magazine.
Penguin has taken two of his short story collections "Flappers and Philosophers" and Tales of the Jazz Age" combining them in a fat Penguin Classics edition. The stories are those the Princeton man wrote at college and in his early career.
The Peguin edition includes
The Penguin edition has "Benjamin Button" on the cover in order to cash in on the popularity of the film starring Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button occurs in Baltimore where a child is born who is an old man. The fantasy follows his career as he becomes progressively younger. If you can accept the absurdity of the premise you can relax and enjoy a story well written and witty.
The stories are uneven in quality and interest. Among the best ones in this collection are:
The Diamond Big as the Ritz-A wild fantasy set in the American West in which the hero visits a school chum who owns a mountain made of solid diamonds who is cruel and keeps prisoners of those unwary to explore into his vast territory.
Bernice Bobs Her Hair is a short O Henry type tale in which Bernice has her hair cut and gets back at a relative who has criticized her appearance.
The Ice Palace is the story of a southern belle with a northern boyfriend. She experiences hatred for the northern way of life symoblized by her being momentarily lost in a huge ice palace built for a winter festival.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nate Mitchell on January 2, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Fitzgerald produces a fantastic tall-tale that should have been as well known as Paul Bunyon. The novel is not only a fascinating journey through life in reverse, it is a showcase for the sheer breathtaking beauty that is Fitzgerald's writing [one example: "It was a gorgeous evening. A full moondrenched the road to the lustreless colour of platinum, and late-blooming harvest flowers breathed into the motionless air aromas that were like low, half-heard laughter." (Chapter 5)]

However, do not expect this story to be anything like its movie adaptation. For one, this story takes less time to read then watching the movie. Again, the message that each story presents is completely different.

In the original story, Benjamin is born a fully grown, mentally developed 70-year-old and dies an infant, both physically and mentally.

This is the fundamental split between the two versions of the story. The movie depicts an infant with the features and physical ailments of an old man who has the mind of an infant. The Benjamin of the silver screen grows young physically, but old mentally.

But, I am not here to review the movie, so back to the original story. Aside from being a journey through life backwards, the short story tells of how bonds that are meant to be sacred and holy (such as family, parenthood, and marriage) are shattered when abnormalities are thrown in. From his birth, Benjamin is resented for his condition, and the ridicule never lets up. His wife believes him selfish and unwilling to change a condition he cannot control. His own son will not let him address him as such, but rather wants Benjamin to be the son to improve his standing socially.

It is an interesting exploration into the inner workings of human relationships and the beauty of F Scott Fitzgerald's style keeps evan the most critical and unimaginative reader inticed. Do not go through life without reading this story.
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