Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Flappers and Philosophers

Flappers and Philosophers
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
256 pages

Man, I thought I was the best F. Scott fan. I have this big beautiful collection of F. Scott stories and I thought that it included all of the stories. But then I went and cross-referenced the stories in Flappers and Philosophers with my book. It only had half of them! Thank goodness for Project Gutenberg

This collection includes eight stories and is Fitzgerald's first published story collection. Many of the stories had previously appeared in the New York Post. The most popular from this collection are The Offshore Pirate, The Ice Palace, and Bernice Bobs Her Hair. Interestingly enough, many of these stories are told from the point of view of women in stark contrast with the male protagonists of Fitzgerald's novels. He is widely credited with bringing the flapper character to prominence.

I enjoyed all of these stories. Fitzgerald writes a wide range of characters and themes. His stories range from  a young man whose turn to crime has interesting repercussions to a young woman whose yacht is boarded by pirates. They are the perfect length - nothing has been neglected, but I never felt like I had been reading a story for too long. 

My favorite of the bunch was Head and Shoulders. Horace Tarbox is a student at Yale, aloof and focused on his studies. When his friend sends a girl to his rooms as a prank, he finds that he can't stop thinking about her. Marcia continues to work as a showgirl while Horace hopes to move up in the export company where he is employed. "Horace, who had no habits whatsoever - he had never had time to form any - proved the most adaptable of husbands, and as Marcia entirely lacked opinions on the subjects that engrossed him there were very few joltings and bumpings. Their minds moved in different spheres. Marcia acted as practical factotum, and Horace lived either in his old world of abstract ideas or in a sort of triumphantly earthy worship and adoration of his wife." The evolution of their relationship and the roles that they play within it are fascinating to witness. 

Flappers and Philosophers is an excellent short story collection from a writer who was in the early years of his career. It's a treat for fans of Fitzgerald's novels and a good starting point for those who have not yet read his brilliant prose. 

In March, I'll be reading The Beautiful and The Damned. Join me?