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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gatsby Girls

Gatsby Girls

Review of Gatsby Girls by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: She was an impulsive, fashionable and carefree 1920s woman who embodied the essence of the Gatsby Girl -- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. As Fitzgerald said, "I married the heroine of my stories." All of the eight short stories contained in this collection were inspired by Zelda.
Fitzgerald, one of the foremost writers of American fiction, found early success as a short story writer for the most widely read magazine of the early 20th century -- the Saturday Evening Post. Fitzgerald's stories, first published by the Post between 1920 and 1922, brought the Jazz Age and the "flapper" to life and confirmed that America was changing faster than ever before. Women were bobbing their hair, drinking and flirting shamelessly, and Fitzgerald brought these exciting Gatsby Girls to life in the pages of the Post.
A foreword by Jeff Nilsson, archivist for the Post, adds historical context to this wonderful, new collection, which is highlighted by an introduction written by Fitzgerald himself. Each story is accompanied by the original illustrations and the beautiful cover images from the Post. Read the stories that made F. Scott Fitzgerald one of the most beloved writers in America -- and around the world -- still today.

My Review:

Going off into a new direction this week, I am reviewing a collection of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald called Gatsby Girls. This book contains some of the stories that Fitzgerald wrote for “The Saturday Evening Post,” many of which Norman Rockwell illustrated. Sometimes the cover would even feature a Rockwell illustration based on his stories.

Why is that important? I don’t know. But to me it was interesting since I enjoy a Norman Rockwell painting as much as the next person.

Anyway, back to the stories. I was thrown off at first because the first writing by Fitzgerald was not a story at all but an essay. In it, he mainly wrote about his journey as a writer and in particular his experience with short stories. It was a very insightful little gem though I did start to wonder if I’d read the book description right. It distinctly mentioned that this was the book with Fitzgerald short stories.

Not to worry though because the next item was a short story. There was a short blurb about it with some background information including when it was published. And then the story followed.
I did begin to see something that surprised me in these stories. Over and over again, they were about relationships between men and women. The women were usually rich Southern belles who were either looking for something different than the life that had grown up in or were just thrown into something different.

I also began to see how the introduction to the book was right. The person who wrote that introduction explained how Fitzgerald created all or nearly all of his heroines based on one person—his wife Zelda. She was that spoiled Southern belle but she had spunk. Maybe these stories were his attempt to figure her out. Who knows?

My favorites were “Myra Meets his Family” and “The Off Shore Pirate.” These seemed to be the most original of the lot. And I did enjoy the Rockwell illustrations even if in some spots they seemed a little strange. It might have been mostly because I am not used to illustrations in a story for adults. They did add though in helping me visual the time period and atmosphere in the stories.

The other odd thing was the placement of the illustrations. I don’t remember which story it was in particular but one of the stories had an illustration of the last scene in the story. I thought if I had been scanning through this issue and not really read that story, that photo would have given the ending away. It seemed to be a strange thing to do.

All of the stories are also divided into sections with Roman numerals telling the reader which one it was. This was helpful as most of the stories were a bit long.

Overall though, I liked reading them. I think I learned something about Fitzgerald’s process as well as the time period. If you enjoy his writing, I think you would probably enjoy this collection as well.

Contains: some sensuality

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