PAPERBACK; 202 P. PENGUIN, 2008/1932 SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY
Full grown with a long, smoke-coloured beard, requiring the services of a cane and fonder of cigars than warm milk, Benjamin Button is a very curious baby indeed. And, as Benjamin becomes increasingly youthful with the passing years, his family wonders why he persists in the embarrassing folly of living in reverse. In this imaginative fable of ageing and the other stories collected here – including “The Cut-Glass Bowl” in which an ill-meant gift haunts a family’s misfortunes, “The Four Fists” where a man’s life shaped by a series of punches to his face, and the revelry, mobs and anguish of “May Day” – F. Scott Fitzgerald displays his unmatched gift as a writer of short stories.
This book is part of the Jazz Age January event hosted by Leah at Books Speak Volumes
Around this time last year, I read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and dived deep into the dazzling 1920s. I’d never before made a conscious effort to look up titles published in certain years and found the experience of immersing into a time period very enjoyable. Thus when Leah announced that she’d be hosting another Jazz Age January, I signed up immediately. I didn’t really have a clear idea of what I wanted to read, except that I wanted an American narrative instead of a British one. Thus I ended up browsing the shelves of my local library, contemplating between Fitzgerald and Hemingway.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories is a collection of seven short stories, compiled from three of Fitzgerald’s short story collections. Three of the stories are from his first collection, Flappers and Philosophers (1921), three from the second collection Tales of the Jazz Age (1922) and the last story was part of the Babylon Revisited and Other Stories (1960) collection. The stories are all set around different characters in various life situations; the title story being probably the most famous one. As with many short story collections, there are some that are absolutely wonderful and that you want to continue reading, and some that you don’t really care for that much. My favourites in this collection were definitely Heads and Shoulders and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as well as “O Russet Witch!”.
Fitzgerald’s writing is stunning and he has a talent on incorporating a variety of feelings between his lines that slowly seep into your consciousness. Although The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories was a short read, I took breaks between the stories, because I feared that the magic would disappear if I would read it too quickly. I really enjoyed reading Fitzgerald again – I’ve only read The Great Gatsby before -, but I must admit that as a whole the collections didn’t quite live up to my expectation. Fitzgerald captures the sense and the feel of the time well in his short stories, and I’ll definitely continue to read more of his works in the future. I’d recommend The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories to those who loved The Great Gatsby and want to try out some of Fitzgerald’s short stories.
The years between thirty-five and sixty-five revolve before the passive mind as one unexplained, confusing merry-go-round. True, they are a merry-go-round of ill-gaited and wind-broken horses, painted in pastel colors, then in dull grays and browns, but perplexing and intolerably dizzy the thing is, as never were the merry-go-rounds of childhood or adolescence, as never, surely, were the certain-coursed, dynamic roller-coasters of youth.