Saturday, September 25, 2010

Six Days, Six Stories

To celebrate Fitzgerald Week this year, I decided to read one of his short stories every day. From Sunday to Friday, I picked a story each day that was either a)new to me or b)a favorite that I hadn't read in a long time. Here are quick reviews of each story, most of which came from the awesome collection The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, who before his death a few years ago was the leading Fitzgerald scholar and biographer.

Sunday - "Babes in the Woods": This was Fitzgerald's first published story and it shows up again in This Side of Paradise. It was an okay story; I wasn't a particularly big fan of it. But you can definitely see his emerging style and thematic obsessions in it.

Monday - "Absolution": This is one of my favorite Fitzgerald stories, but I hadn't read it in years. I enjoyed it more than ever this time around. You can see why this story was considered a kind of prologue for The Great Gatsby, and the final pages reminded me a lot of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead (this being a story about small towns and religion, after all). Most of all, I was impressed by the writing, which is really something.

Tuesday - "Crazy Sunday": This is another Fitzgerald story that I hadn't picked up since high school, but which I remember liking at the time. It's about Hollywood and marriage and betrayal. I understood the darkness in this story much better this time around, and I found it a richer experience now. It's pretty prickly for a Fitzgerald story (which are often considered "slick" pieces), and it features some of his most unlikeable characters, which is really saying something.

Wednesday - "The Lost Decade": This super-short piece is actually considered more of a sketch than a story, but it packs quite an emotional punch in its brevity. It was one of the last things he published, and it's definitley autobiographical in its portrayal of a former drunk's realization that he's completely let life pass him by. I really liked this one. A lot.

Thursday - "More Than Just a House": This is the first time I've ever read this story, and I found it really enjoyable. In it, a man becomes tied to three sisters after he saves the lives of two of them, and he's witness to their downfalls, all of which are tied into their rambling old house. I'm still not sure what to make of the ending of this one, but I would definitley read it again.

Friday - "Babylon Revisted": I've probably read this story half a dozen times, at least. It's one of the most painful things I've ever read, but it's so well done that I can't help but love it. Fitzgerald largely stays out of parent-child relationships in his work, but his own issues as a father are on full display in this one. It's sad and beautiful and really quite perfect. Definitely some of Fitzgerald's finest and most poignant writing.

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