Strengths: Great short story writer, varied stories
Weaknesses: Most of the stories are quite sad!
Why I read it: Another Popular Penguin book
Published: 2010 this edition, originally 1921
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
If you liked this, try: Other books by F.Scott Fitzgerald
I originally bought this book because I recalled that there had been a movie made of the title story and I was interested to see how a short story could be made into an entire film. I’m still not really sure on that account, because I haven’t seen the movie of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button! (Although I would like to see Brad Pitt getting younger). The title story is probably the best in this collection of short stories, as it takes an unusual event (a baby being born old and getting younger as he ages) and explores the various problems (social murmurs, sons being embarrassed of their fathers etc.).
The other stories in this book I didn’t find quite as memorable, although they all have the common Fitzgerald element of sadness running through them. Fitzgerald is still as sharp as ever, cutting to the quick the problems of society, such as appearance (much is made of what people will think about Benjamin Button and indeed, he is hidden or explained as another relative to many people). Benjamin’s son is horrified that his father wants to go to college (being rejected as an old man when he is the ‘correct’ age) and the baby Benjamin is often hidden out of sight.
There has been suggestion that the story looks at the before and after effects of returned servicemen from World War I – looking young, but being internally old due to what they went through. I’m not really into analysis, but it’s an interesting idea.
The other short stories…well, it was interesting to read them but they didn’t have the original idea of Benjamin Button. There are callous relationships, partying and deep sadness, much like The Beautiful and Damned. Good to read if you like Fitzgerald and want to read everything he ever wrote, but not a necessity. It was a good way to pass time on public transport though!