Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

For decades the books I have read have been non-fiction only. Usually stuck in genres like True Crime, World War II, American Civil War, Native American History and non-fiction books about events in modern times, usually written by Bob Woodward, covering subjects like Watergate and the Bush Wars.

I have also read many auto-biographies. Ulysses S. Grant's auto-biography is likely the best I've read.

A couple months ago I read a book that compiled letters between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Reading these letters and the interpretive commentary that explained their context was intriguing.

Being intrigued led me to reading fiction for the first time in a really long time.

First I read Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise. Followed by Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.

During my school years I read Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Almost every school boy in America, post World War II, has been required to read Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The Hemingway novel I recollect being a reading assignment in high school was The Old Man and the Sea.

That these two, Hemingway and Fitzgerald were friends, albeit a turbulent friendship, is surprising, given that they were so different. Hemingway, in his writing, and in person, being such a manly man. Whilst Fitzgerald seems to be constantly working on getting in touch with his feminine side, as the modern vernacular describes a guy with a very sensitive self.

Yesterday I finished the Fitzgerald book whose cover you see above, that being The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A New Collection.

I figured I would likely bail on reading these short stories after a story or two.

Instead of bailing, I read every one of the 775 small print pages that it took to tell 43 short stories.

Fitzgerald was prolific with the short stories. He wrote many more than the 43 I read. He was the highest paid short story writer in America during his time. While he was alive his fame came from the short stories, not his novels. The Great Gatsby was pretty much a dud while Fitzgerald was alive.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896. His first novel, This Side of Paradise was published in 1920, when he was only 24. While he was alive, none of his novels reached the level of popular success that his writing achieved well after his death, at 44, in 1940.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died thinking himself a failure, thinking he'd never reached the literary success he dreamed of when he was young. He died in Hollywood, working on movie scripts, with his last novel unfinished, that being The Last Tycoon, based on the life of Hollywood legend, Irving Thalberg.

The tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's own life is mirrored, over and over again, in his short stories. I think any thinking person would find parts of their own life mirrored in the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I am also thinking that someone in Hollywood should be thinking about the idea of turning the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald in to an anthology type TV series. Some weeks an episode could have two or even three of the short stories. Others of the short stories might span several weeks.

And tell the story the way Fitzgerald wrote it, not a bastardized version like what was done to his Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There are several of Fitzgerald's short stories I'd like to see in movie form. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz comes to mind. As does More Than Just a House. That one is a timely tale, applicable to our modern times.

Tomorrow I start in on The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. I hope to be as impressed as I am by F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know...Phyllis Diller's autobiography is very good...I think you would like it.