I absolutely adore Fitzgerald’s writing, so was pleased to obtain this selection of short stories (and bit and pieces), woven together by Anne Margaret Daniel. I loved seeing samples of the original manuscripts, along with photographs of Fitzgerald from throughout his life. Daniel also adds anecdotes and context around the short stories which fills out the details of his life.
I find Fitzgerald to be clever, articulate and (for want of a better word) jaunty. His words have bounce. They’re exciting and fresh. That’s probably what people loved about his writing so much.
It’s really interesting to note that in this collection of stories, there are quite a few that were never accepted for publication because they weren’t like his usual work. That is to say, they’re not exactly ‘boy meets girl and they get happily married and everything is perfect’. No. There are mentions of doctors, mental health, suicide, drugs and all sorts of other antics. These stories show another side of Fitzgerald who, after a few decades of writing the same old thing, had other subject matter to discuss. It’s a shame they weren’t taken seriously at the time because some are so wonderful.
I love his stories that have a beautiful, clever twist at the very end – The I.O.U and Nightmare an example of this. He writes about movie stars, publishers and nurses – all relevant to his world. There’s even an interesting Civil War era short story in there, Thumbs Up. But always, no matter the motive or the genre, Fitzgerald’s writing is flawless and sparkling. I’ll pick a random excerpt:
“That I can believe – you’re a stubborn girl, Kiki, and you’re one of the best. But I don’t think you’re in love with Van Kamp.”
Suddenly she was crying angrily because she knew it was true. She was only getting started at being in love. It would be all right, it would come soon, it would atone for everything. But just now until it came she was so vulnerable. She could not avoid comparing Rip, boyish and unoriented, oblivious to so much, to Alex Considine, a grown man, confident and perceptive, with a will of his own making and his own mistakes.
He has such a remarkable way of understanding his characters and phrasing their thoughts and feelings. The dialogue is always interesting too:
“Now, Doctor Craig – exactly what did happen?”
“I lost my temper and swore at them.”
Dr. Haskell arose and took a few steps down the room, and then back to his chair. He was a fair man; Bill had always liked him.
“Go on fire me, sir,” he said. “I know I deserve it.”
“All right. I’m going to fire you. I’m glad you’re going to take it that way. I knew your father –”
“Oh, please skip that. You’re not going to penalise anybody else, are you?”
I just love F. Scott Fitzgerald 🙂