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Tue, 25 Jan 2005

Philosophers and Flappers

— SjG @ 12:21 pm

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1920, read as an e-Book from BlackMask.com

This collection of short stories deals with the bored daughters of the super-wealthy, jaded society girls, lucky ne’erdowells, fallen philosophers, and other (perhaps less expected) characters. The stories vary in tone, in how convincing they are, and general depth:

  • “The Offshore Pirate” was somewhat weak and predictable; the best part of this story was its early descriptions of the spoiled, bratty Ardita, the Paris Hilton of her set.
  • “The Ice Palace” is one of the best of the collection, which deals with regionalism, relationships, and the lies we tell ourselves when we think we’re following a dream.
  • “Head and Shoulders,” while contrived, told a good story of the twists of fate and changes to plans that love can bring.
  • “The Cut Glass Bowl” was a second rate story, but did get in some digs at society mores.
  • “Bernice Bobs her Hair” is an interesting exploration of the battle for status in the leisure class. Direct and brutal, it’s one of those stories I’d had to read in high school, and therefore didn’t properly appreciate. It really highlights Fitzgerald’s understanding of human interaction, and the ways people establish social hierarchies.
  • “Benediction” is the most subtle of set, and has more complicated characters than the others.
  • “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong” is a simple tale of the downtrodden worker being turned to crime, and thus to politics. Amusing, but forgettable.
  • “The Four Fists” is a fun conceit about an ordinary fellow who gets punched into moral behavior, and thus great success.

Fitzgerald’s greatest strength seems to be exploring the inner dialogues of the desperate and disaffected, although he also excels at a sort of insider critique of upper class American culture and the mythology it creates for itself.

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