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Customer Review

92 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the old canards about Fitzgerald's Short Story, May 17, 2001
This review is from: Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection (Hardcover)
As a devoted admirer of the form, I can tell you that this book has more gems in it, POUND FOR POUND that virtually any other book of it's type.
Do you enjoy the poetry of Keats and the other Romantic poets? Do you enjoy Shakespeare's sonnets? Then you'll LOVE this book. It BREATHES, it shivvers with vitality and lyricism. I've read the entire book twice, and individual stories like "Rich Boy", "Babylon Revisited", "Absolution"; which many consider as a trial for the "Great Gatsby", "Jacob's Ladder", "Winter Dreams", etc., too many times to recount. THERE IS BEAUTY AND POETRY IN THE WRITING! Does the plot always nail us to our chairs? No, not even in Gatsby; but the writing does. That is why I agree with Gertrude Stein's assesment of Fitzgerald vis-a-vis Hemingway: That his flame burns a little brighter. She was so enraptured by "Gatsby", that she drew a line on her wall, with the request to "please, next time, write one THIS thick".
Are they all great? Well, to a degree, greatness is in the eye of the beholder. SOME individual stories which are raved over by critics and readers alike leave me relatively cold. "Benjamin Button"; the case of a person born elderly and "aging" in reverse, to me reads like bad science fiction. "Diamond as Big as the Ritz", is interesting only in several short sections in which Fitzgerald is trying to describe the most opulent scene which his fertile imagination can create. The rest of if to me is more farce than satire; and what precious little satire is available, seems a bit threadbare.
BUT IF YOU HAVE A SENSITIVITY FOR PURE POETRY, you can not help but be moved by this book. Look at it this way, Hemingway wrote "Moveable Feast", BECAUSE HE WAS INTIMIDATED BY FITZGERALD. Did Fitzgerald drink too much? Sure he did, but so did Joyce, Faulkner, Lardner, and Hemingway himself. It's nothing but lamentable, but we can't start disregarding writers because of their personal habits, or we're all going to be reading O Henry and James Whitcomb Riley.
Did Fitzgerald flunk out of college? Yes, that is true also, but Hemingway didn't even GO TO COLLEGE, and has a memorable quote in a short story that "education is an opiate of the people". Edmund Wilson was a fantastic scholar--and a boring writer. Don't judge the EXTRANEOUS, judge the writing itself. Don't confuse brilliance with being an academic. Einstein himself was a "C" student.
Too much is made about Fitzgerald's own negative assessment regarding his short stories. Scott could never handle pressure. He attributed this facility for "wavering at the critical moment" as a bequeathal from his father. It may have made him feel better to belittle the work he did everyday to earn his bread--so at least he could not be held to his own impossibly high standards for something so mercenary, or so goes the logic. But he was craving desperatly for money during much of his life, so doesn't logic also imply that if he could earn more money for ONE story than the years of labor that went into "Tender is the Night" , that he would put forth something VERY CLOSE TO HIS BEST? When he was flat broke and his daughter and wife needing support and if his story wasn't accepted by a major magazine of the time, they would suffer terrible consequences? I can guarantee you that he tried and very hard. The proof as they say is in the pudding.
This book deserves a PROMINENT PLACE in any library where the premium is paid to writing for its own beauty and elegance. You too will wish this book of short stories was a little "thicker" by the time you finish it.
For God's sake, you should by this book if for no other reason than to honor the man's life. The fact that it IS so good, is more of a break than we typically get in life.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 21, 2008 3:02:04 PM PST
Pod Horetz says:
I like the respect: You should stand by this book if for no other reason than to honor the man's life.

Posted on Sep 17, 2013 7:50:34 PM PDT
Don Kenner says:
Nice review. I agree, Fitzgerald is not given enough credit for his short stories. I think this is mainly because the form is so devalued today.

I look forward to buying this book soon. My way of honoring the man.
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