Most people recognize F. Scott Fitzgerald as a novelist. I remember college professors promoting The Great Gatsby as the exemplar of “the great American novel”. And up until I discovered this collection, Jazz Age Stories, I had not given it much thought that Fitzgerald might have written short fiction as well. I was intrigued to learn that over the course of his writing career Fitzgerald made more money from the publications of his short stories than he ever did from his novels.
Jazz Age Stories is reprint of two earlier collections of short stories, originally published by Scribner’s: Flappers and Philosophers (1920) and Tales of the Jazz Age (1922). This republication collects all of the stories in those two earlier editions. Some notable stories include “The Ice Palace,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Cut-Glass Bowl,” “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” and “Diamonds as Big as the Ritz.”
I am curious to learn whether these shorter glimpses of the Jazz Age will show me something I did not see while reading Gatsby. Fitzgerald referred to the era in which he lived as “a generation grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.” We have come to know this generation as the Lost Generation: John Steinbeck, Earnest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have a strong affection for each of these authors — an affection with which my child bride does not always concur. This may be why I occasionally refer to her as Zelda.