Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Tales of the Jazz Age

Tales of the Jazz Age
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
330 pages
From Project Gutenburg

This is F. Scott Fitzgerald's second collection of short stories. It was published in 1922, the same year as his novel The Beautiful and the Damned. Its most popular story is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

It took me a long time to get through this collection. I don't know if I just wasn't in the mood for short stories or if the unevenness of the stories made me hesitate to dip back in, but I have been working on this one since April according to GoodreadsThere are way too many stories in this book to cover each one of them here, but I will discuss a few favorites. 

Porcelain and Pink 
Fitzgerald loved to write plays. He threw one into This Side of Paradise and wrote a political satire entitled The Vegetable. I think this is one of his most successful. It centers around Julie, a young woman bathing in a pink tub. She converses with her sister and a suitor outside her window. The play has a fun twist ending which exhibits Fitzgerald's unique brand of humor perfectly. 

The Diamond As Big as the Ritz
I don't remember reading this one before. This story is about a young man named John T. Unger who is invited to spend the holiday with his extremely wealthy classmate Percy Washington. Percy takes John to his secluded mansion which is perched on top of the world's biggest diamond. John meets Percy's stern and mysterious father and his alluring sister. John's knowledge of the the family's fortune soon puts him in danger and the ending of this story is, well, explosive. There are also many  interesting race and class issues brought up throughout this story. 

O Russet Witch!
This story feels very different from Fitzgerald's usual fare. He tends to write about a young man in love with a woman who is defeated by class differences and money woes. This story takes place mostly at a bookstore (which you know we bibliophiles adore). The wonderfully named Merlin is enchanted by the young woman who lives in the apartment across from his. When he is not working at The Moonlight Quill Bookstore, he is observing this girl who he dubs 'Caroline.' The day she comes into the store, she turns the store and his life upside down. This story follows Merlin throughout his life and looks at the effect this magical woman has on him.

The Lees of Happiness
The Lees of Happiness is a really lovely, heartfelt story. Fitzgerald's stories often wink at the reader and have moments of humor and light. This one is about a singer named Roxanne who marries Jeffrey, a writer. They are wonderfully happy together until tragedy strikes the young couple. It's a story that looks at the longing for what could have been and the inability of others to heal our wounds. I think this is one of my favorite Fitzgerald stories. 

Do you have a favorite F. Scott short story? 
I will be (re)reading The Great Gatsby next and posting about it towards the end of the month. I would love for you to join me! Check out BookRiot for some great supplemental stuff - they are reading Gatsby this month too. 


  1. I've only read The Great Gatsby but I liked it and am interested in reading more Fitzgerald. I think I'll try Tender is the Night next, but will keep this collection in mind :)

    1. This collection is sort of hard to find. Thank goodness for Project Gutenberg!
      I do have a collection of the short stories edited by Matthew Bruccoli, who is one of the big Fitzgerald scholars. It has a few stories from each volume. That might be a good place to start if you are looking to get a feel for his stories.