F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories have been on my must-read list for a long time now but I never got around to it. Last month I read Hemmingway’s A Movable Feast which shows Fitzgerald in a rather comedic and mostly unflattering light. But even Hemmingway has nothing but praise for Fitzgerald’s body of work. So I was wondering where to start when I stumbled on to Laurie’s blog Fitzgerald Musings and saw that she had mentioned stories that she thought were Fitzgerald’s finest. Since Laurie’s blog is named after, and dedicated to F. Scott Fitzgerald, I figured I could do no better than to start with her recommendations. I’m glad I did. Onto the stories.
Dexter is an enterprising and sensible young man. Except when it comes to Judy Jones the beautiful heartbreaker. The story itself is a familiar one; we’ve all heard, read or seen it before. The beauty lies in the telling. I’ve heard it said that this story was sort of a test drive of the Great Gatsby idea. In any case it was a very well told and memorable story. Here it is if you'd like to read it online.
Bernice Bob’s Her Hair
Bernice is a well bred but socially inept young girl who’s visiting her cousin Marjorie who is hugely popular. Marjorie reluctantly gives Bernice a mini-makeover and suddenly Bernice starts to get a lot more attention from the guys. It’s all going great until a miffed Marjorie calls her bluff. I really liked the way Fitzgerald constructed Bernice’s character. I find it rare that a male author can describe a female mind without it sounding fake or stilted. Fitzgerald really nails it here. Check it out online.
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz
This is such fantastical tale, sort of Arabian nights meets a Rider Haggard adventure. John T Unger is visiting his friend Percy Washington. But Percy is not from a run-of-the-mill wealthy family. For one, they live on a giant, hidden diamond and do bizarre things to keep it hidden. As much as this is thrilling and hilarious it is also a satire on the isolation and the ethical void that the very wealthy seem to live in. You can read it here.
The Offshore Pirate
How often have you read/seen/heard a romantic comedy which was equal parts romantic and funny without the extreme cheesiness that so often plagues the genre? Fitzgerald shows us how it’s done in The Offshore Pirate. It about an obstinate and free spirited young girl who falls for a mysterious pirate. I don’t want to tell you anymore about the story because it would ruin it for you. Read it here and enjoy.
The Rich Boy
“Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created — nothing.” When a story begins with a line like this, you know it’s going to be good. For some reason that I cannot adequately explain in a few sentences, this struck me as a really sad story. Not because anything bad happens but because the gradual decline of Anson Hunter, the protagonist, is almost like watching the slow decay of a magnificent edifice. Funny when you think about it because Anson is a privileged man, adored by women, genuinely loved by at least two of them; hardly an underdog. He is in fact the sort of arrogant, spoilt, rich kid you should hate instantly. But you don’t. It’s amazing. Read it here.
I’m not for a minute suggesting that these are Fitzgerald’s best stories. For one, I haven’t read enough of his stories to judge and for another, I don’t believe you can rank and grade stories. What this list does, however, is to give you an idea of the amazing range and variety of Fitzgerald’s work. No two stories are alike but they’re all really satisfying.