Review / Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pages: 672 / Publisher: Penguin / Buy Here

Encompassing the very best of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short fiction, this collection spans his career, from the early stories of the glittering Jazz Age, through the lost hopes of the thirties, to the last, twilight decade of his life. It brings together his most famous stories, including ‚The Diamond as Big as the Ritz‘, a fairy tale of unlimited wealth; the sad and hilarious stories of Hollywood hack Pat Hobby; and ‚The Lost Decade‘, written in Fitzgerald’s last years. (source: Penguin)

In this new collection, Penguin combined a great number of Fitzgerald’s short stories which had been published in various collections before. Fitzgerald continues to write about his favourite topics: the south of the USA and the human drive for fame, passion and wealth. His characters all strive for something more than what life has offered them until now. But as his stories usually go, no one get’s what he wants at the end.

Well, let it pass, he thought: April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.

Fitzgerald’s writing talent is obvious. He has no problems getting into the minds of diverse people; men and women, young flappers and old hands. Whereas most of his short stories are realistic, some elements of magical realism are interspersed. One has only to think of the famous The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Fitzgerald produced a huge amount of literary output and the similarities to his novels can’t be denied. Same as his other characters, may it be Jay Gatsby or the Divers in Tender is the Night, the personages are rousing both pity and despise in the reader for their vanities and meaness, their disappointments and defeats.

I don’t think he was ever happy unless someone was in love with him, responding to him like filings to a magnet, helping him to explain himself, promising him something.

The reader re-encounters the characters in other stories and a whole collection is dedicated to a very special character: Pat Hobby, the infamous Hollywood man. Old and used up, he cannot let go of the place that promised to be his place of success. With cunning and ruthlessness, he tries to exploit every friendship and connection he has and makes, before it all turns back on him again. Same as so many others of Fitzgerald’s people, he lives in a fool’s paradise.

The time draws near that I will have read every little piece of writing that Fitzgerald has published and I have to say: The short stories were my favourites so far. His characters are sad and glamourous, likable and hateable at the same time. They make my heart ache. What suprised me the most however, is, that although I enjoyed the Brad Pitt movie a lot, neither The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, nor any of the other short stories with a magical touch, could excite me.


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