“Flappers and Philosophers” by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Review

By: Angie Haddock


By the Irish American Jazz Age novelist and short story writer regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. Flappers and Philosophers (1920) was his first collection of short stories.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald is known now for his great novels – notably, “The Great Gatsby,” “This Side of Paradise,” or “The Beautiful and the Damned” – but in his own time, he was known largely for writing short stories. These were often published in weekly or monthly newspapers and magazines, but some were also compiled into books after they’d been published.

Such is the case with this tome, “Flappers and Philosophers,” which was first published in 1920. The individual stories would have all been written some time before that date – and it shows.

Some of the language here is downright cringe-worthy for people reading today, especially when he’s referring to people of color, foreigners, and women. But, as they say, it was a different time.

The other factor here that made me roll my eyes is that almost every story starred a girl of nineteen years, who was wise beyond her years and beautiful with one quirky factor – maybe gray or violet eyes, for example. That set-up got old fast.

But, if you can get past the biases of the time, the stories are all pretty good. There are eight in total, and most of them have a twist near the end. Fitzgerald’s writing is beautiful and poetic in places, which serves as a reminder of why his works are still read at all.

To give you an idea of what’s included, the stories here are titled: The Offshore Pirate, The Ice Palace, Head and Shoulders, The Cut-Glass Bowl, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, Benediction, Dalyrimple Goes Wrong, and The Four Fists.

Some topics are classics of Fitzgerald’s writing, like the differences in ideas between people who have money and who don’t. He also pits other ideologies against each other, such as those of Northerners an Southerners. One character falls into a life of crime. Religion, war, and how flappers wear their hair are concerns of other characters. In one of my favorites, a husband gives up his writing career to better take care of his wife… only to see her start a writing career while staying home, and eventually make more than he does.

A book of eight short stories is easy to get through, but do go in knowing that these are over 100 years old.


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“F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Ruth Prigozy – Review

By: Angie Haddock


Scott Fitzgerald’s life reads like one of his own stories: a young man of great promise marries into wealth, but beneath the golden surface lie alcoholism, debt, insecurity, and in Fitzgerald’s particular case, the mental instability of his beautiful, unconventional wife, Zelda. Fitzgerald scholar Ruth Prigozy provides fresh insight into the life of the novelist who, in both his work and life, captured the rise and fall of the Jazz Age.

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I am one of those crazy kids who actually did like a few of the “classics” I had to read in school, and one of my faves was “The Great Gatsby.” So, when I came upon this slim, picture-filled bio of the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, at a library book sale – buying it was a no-brainer for me. (I was supporting the library!)

I feel like most avid readers have a few ideas about Fitzgerald – many of his books were at least semi-biographical, and he and his wife were famous symbols of the roaring twenties. This book dashes through all the eras of Fitzgerald’s life, though, without much romanticizing.

One of the things I found interesting was that his mother was a distant relative of Francis Scott Key (writer of “The Star Spangled Banner”), and that is actually who he is named after.

While most of us know Fitzgerald from his novels, he mostly paid his bills (or didn’t, often) by writing short stories. Many of these were published in magazines first, most notably in “The Saturday Evening Post.” Some were later compiled into anthologies, as well.

Fitzgerald drank a lot, and his wife Zelda spent her later years in a mental institution. These two issues soaked up most of his money, and he spent a lot of time worrying about money. To his credit, though, he always pushed himself to write more to make money. He also borrowed from family, but his drunkeness never led to a period when he wasn’t writing – and often profusely.

There are some interesting tidbits in this book about his friendships (and rivalries) with other writers (including Ernest Hemingway), editors, and even Hollywood personalities of the time. The Fitzgeralds were always trying to be fashionable, and several of Scott’s stories made it to the silver screen during his lifetime. While he did try his hand and screenwriting on several different occassions, he did not have much luck hanging around Hollywood himself.

F. Scott Fitzgerald did die in Hollywood, though, at the home of his girlfriend. He was only 44 years old at the time.

This was a quick read, and I loved all the pictures of the Fitzgeralds’ travels.


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