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Tales of the Jazz Age: 11 Classic Short Stories
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am not a huge fan of short stories, because it never fails that by the time I find myself invested in them I have reached the last page. Same can be said for `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', a rather delightful little story that is engaging, interesting and very rewarding. Yes, this is a short story, so I'm going to say this straight off; you may not want to invest your money in this version. I actually purchased another version from Amazon that has a few short stories for less money, so try you hand at that collection instead of this singular novel.

But, I wanted to take the time to review the story, because that's what these reviews are all about right, the work itself and not the packaging.

`The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' is a peculiar tale of a man born at the end of his life and has the rare opportunity of growing young, living his life in reverse as it were. F. Scott Fitzgerald states at the beginning of this story that it was inspired by a statement made by Mark Twain, that the best things in life happen at the beginning and the worst at the end. With `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' Fitzgerald plays the cynic, exploring how living life in reverse can be seemingly beneficial yet ultimately devastating.

Benjamin is born a brittle old man with a cane (not literally, but he needs one) and a full mind, and as the year's progress his relationships with those around him shift for various reasons. First he is at odds with his devastated parents who are ashamed of him, but as he grows to meet his father in age they become like brothers. He meets and falls in love with the young Hildegarde, who is attracted to the `older' Benjamin, only to marry her, grow younger than her, and drift apart from her. He takes over his fathers business and prospers because of his newfound energy, yet his youth begins to destroy him as his own son becomes his elder and is thus ashamed of the very sight of his father.

There is a moment within `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' where the elderly Benjamin (in mind, not in physicality) is attending kindergarten and is lamenting over the fact that the other children can talk about what they want to be when they grow up, a prospect that Benjamin will never see.

This to me captures the very point of this story.

Yes, this is a short story of a few pages and it moves rather quickly through Benjamin's life, but it is also written with such rich detail that one never feels jaded. I do wish that this had been written as a full length novel, for it surely has the potential to be one of the most refreshing and moving pieces of literature ever written. It is wildly original (although Fitzgerald himself has mentioned that he has read this prose elsewhere) and it is absurdly poignant. Yes, `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' has such a deep-rooted importance, for when you strip away the preposterousness of the prose there is a moral that is so humanly real we can feel it in the very pit of us.

We have all heard the phrase `the grass is greener on the other side' and this novel is the perfect answer back to that statement, for it proves that we shouldn't always be wishing for something we don't quite understand, because once we have it we may realize it is far from desired.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Tales of the Jazz Age (Penguin Classics Hardcover) does not contain the original contents of the 1922 book of the same title. This edition contains the following eight stories.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Head and Shoulders
The Cut-Glass Bowl
The Four Fists
May Day
'O Russet Witch!'
Bernice Bobs Her Hair
The Lees of Happiness

Of these stories five are also included in Flappers and Philosophers: The Collected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Penguin Classics Hardcover). If you're buying these books as a book collector (like me) you'll want both titles because they are gorgeous editions. If however you're not intending on buying both I suggest purchasing Flappers and Philosophers instead as it has the majority of these stories plus many more.

[...]
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Tales Of The Jazz Age is an anthology of classic short stories by the renowned 20th Century American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is best known for his enduring classic "The Great Gatsby". Satirizing the selfishness of the wealthy, depicting revelry that escalates into a destructive mob, while offering a sharp look at the flaws of society, and enhanced with introductions to each story by the author, Tales Of The Jazz Age is highly recommended, and this Pine Street Books edition would make a perfect choice for school and community libraries needing to replace worn copies of previous editions.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Avoid the Timeless Classics edition. It is a mess. Far from being "carefully formatted" it is in fact full of typos and odd formatting choices that distract and detract from the enjoyment of Fitzgerald's stories. If you wish to save money just download the free version which is certainly no worse than the awful Timeless Classic edition.

If you want a better file try one of the more expensive editions.

If anyone at the "publisher" (or at Amazon) cares I would appreciate a refund on this ebook or a free download of a better edition.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tales of the Jazz Age is an anthology of nineteen short stories by renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald, including "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz", "Dice, Brassknuckles and Guitar", and "Love in the Night". Enhanced with an extensive record of variants, explanatory notes, as well as an extensive introduction concerning the selection and editorial principles of the anthology, Tales of the Jazz Age is a superb edition of classic literature that would grace any academic or library collection -- and is "must" reading for F. Scott Fitzgerald enthusiasts and fans.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am not a huge fan of short stories, because it never fails that by the time I find myself invested in them I have reached the last page. Same can be said for `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', a rather delightful little story that is engaging, interesting and very rewarding. Yes, this is a short story, so I'm going to say this straight off; you may not want to invest your money in this version. I actually purchased another version from Amazon that has a few short stories for less money, so try you hand at that collection instead of this singular novel.

But, I wanted to take the time to review the story, because that's what these reviews are all about right, the work itself and not the packaging.

`The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' is a peculiar tale of a man born at the end of his life and has the rare opportunity of growing young, living his life in reverse as it were. F. Scott Fitzgerald states at the beginning of this story that it was inspired by a statement made by Mark Twain, that the best things in life happen at the beginning and the worst at the end. With `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' Fitzgerald plays the cynic, exploring how living life in reverse can be seemingly beneficial yet ultimately devastating.

Benjamin is born a brittle old man with a cane (not literally, but he needs one) and a full mind, and as the year's progress his relationships with those around him shift for various reasons. First he is at odds with his devastated parents who are ashamed of him, but as he grows to meet his father in age they become like brothers. He meets and falls in love with the young Hildegarde, who is attracted to the `older' Benjamin, only to marry her, grow younger than her, and drift apart from her. He takes over his fathers business and prospers because of his newfound energy, yet his youth begins to destroy him as his own son becomes his elder and is thus ashamed of the very sight of his father.

There is a moment within `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' where the elderly Benjamin (in mind, not in physicality) is attending kindergarten and is lamenting over the fact that the other children can talk about what they want to be when they grow up, a prospect that Benjamin will never see.

This to me captures the very point of this story.

Yes, this is a short story of a few pages and it moves rather quickly through Benjamin's life, but it is also written with such rich detail that one never feels jaded. I do wish that this had been written as a full length novel, for it surely has the potential to be one of the most refreshing and moving pieces of literature ever written. It is wildly original (although Fitzgerald himself has mentioned that he has read this prose elsewhere) and it is absurdly poignant. Yes, `The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' has such a deep-rooted importance, for when you strip away the preposterousness of the prose there is a moral that is so humanly real we can feel it in the very pit of us.

We have all heard the phrase `the grass is greener on the other side' and this novel is the perfect answer back to that statement, for it proves that we shouldn't always be wishing for something we don't quite understand, because once we have it we may realize it is far from desired.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This 1922 short story collection is a trip back in time through the eyes of this celebrated author. There are 11 stories here, of varying quality and I enjoyed reading them all and letting myself visit the time and a place and the culture that is now just a small blip in the annals of history. Some stories are set in the world of the moneyed, others are set in the world of fantasy and there are other that are just figments of the author's imagination. I didn't like all of these stories. As the saying goes, "when they were good they were very very good, and when they were bad they were horrid", but I felt I got to know F. Scott Fitzgerald through these stories, see how his mind worked, and understand how he became so well known and was able to come to his full power in his novels.

His strongest stores were set in the real world, the young southern man who was smitten by a rich young woman, two recently released soldiers from the War in Europe who stumble upon some party-going socialites, a very funny story about a costume party where two men dress in a camel costume, and a sad story about a happy marriage which is spoiled by the husband's illness.

I don't like fantasy and found myself annoyed by these stories, even the one about the Curious Case of Benjamin Button which was recently made into a movie, or The Diamond as Big as the Ritz which was a fantasy of enormous wealth and cruelty. There were stories of unfulfilled dreams and real emotion which I liked. And others that were just stupid and silly and hard to follow.

Yes, I enjoyed this book, even the stories I didn't like. Having a critical attitude towards something I am reading is not a bad thing. However, I was really annoyed at the plethora of typographical errors throughout the book. There is no excuse for that.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this story before seeing the movie starring Brad Pitt. The story is great and worth reading. It is only 20+ pages, but really interesting. I saw the movie yesterday, and highly recommend the movie. The movie has taken some liberties from the book, but still excellent. Movies are always a little different from the book. I recommend you read this story before seeing the movie.

I gave the book to my 19 year old son to read, and he enjoyed it too. We went to the movie together, and both enjoyed the movie. It was a nice mother/son date. I am an avid reader, but my son normally only reads for school or Harry Potter books, so it was nice that he enjoyed this story too, and wanted to see the movie with his mother. Pick up the book and share it with your family, you might be surprised how much they enjoy reading it too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a short story, set in huge type, and will only take an hour or two to read. So don't spend $9 on this book. Instead, read it sitting in Barnes and Noble (like I did), or buy a book of Fitzgerald's works that includes this story.

But DO read this story! It is an incredible short story, a cynical tale (a fairy tale?) with some remarkable, gem-like sentences. If you've read "The Great Gatsby," then you know Fitzgerald can really write. And he proves his skill, again, with this short story. The story is wonderful, and many of its scenes have stuck with me - in particular, the descriptions connected to the lead character's first love.

Also, the tale it tells is fairly odd and striking, and, even if the writing weren't wonderful (as it is), its boldness might, alone, make it worth a read.

Again, while you shouldn't buy this book - it's way overpriced - you should read this story!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The idea behind "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a very simple one -- what if a human being were born an old man, and aged backwards towards babyhood? It's an unusually whimsical idea for the legendary F. Scott Fitzgerald, but this short story explores it very well, with poignancy and a measure of humor.

In 19th-century Baltimore, Roger Button was horrified when he saw his newborn son -- a newborn son who is actually a wizened old man who speak, walk and is fully self-aware. Though Benjamin is dressed and treated as much like a child as possible, he has the sensibilities and habits of an elderly man. And by the time he's twelve, he finds that his aging is REVERSING rather than progressing.

As his life goes on, Benjamin must deal with the problems of trying to live a semi-normal life -- trying to enroll in college, working for his father, falling in love and marrying. But as his body de-ages, his mind does as well, and in his twilight years he begins to do all the things that young men of the time did, until his bizarre lifespan reaches its unnatural conclusion.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is one of those short stories that really leaves you wishing it were a full-length novel, just because the whole idea is so rich. While you more or less know how things will go for Benjamin Button, the pleasure is following his life as he changes and evolves, and how the world deals with a man who's aging backwards.

In particular, Fitzgerald seems to be taking some jabs at people who are so blinkered that the bizarre doesn't even reach them. Benjamin's wife and kid resent his de-aging, but they insist that the whole thing is a "joke" or his attempt to be "different from everyone else." His fusty son Roscoe is the worst ("It seemed to him that his father, in refusing to look sixty, had not behaved like a 'red-blooded he-man'").

Fitzgerald's writing is also sublimely atmospheric ("the eastern sky was suddenly cracked with light") with lush descriptions of everything about the world that Benjamin experiences ("her feet were glittering buttons at the hem of her bustled dress"). He also fills it with a sense of sorrow and lingering pain, since despite the outward success of his life, Benjamin is doomed to never live it normally.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is indeed a curious story -- strange, insightful and sometimes barbed in tone, but always amazingly written.
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