One of the great novelists of the 20th century – and perhaps of all time – F. Scott Fitzgerald is our featured author this week. During a short life of glamour, heavy drinking and destructively fraught romances, Fitzgerald wrote four novels and numerous short stories that came to define the Jazz Age.
Usually brief, usually gorgeously written, his work dealt mostly with the fleetingness of youth, the superficiality of beauty and the unresolved promise of the American Dream. Underlying everything is his own existential despair: the haunting imagery of even seemingly light-hearted stories such as “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (made into a feature film in 2008) and “The Camel’s Back”, written by Fitzgerald to fund a purchase of a platinum and diamond wristwatch, expresses the inevitability of failure and the silent terror of ageing. His life – of outward beauty and rotten relationships – formed the material for many of his stories.
When Fitzgerald died in 1940, from a heart attack at the age of 44, he thought himself a failure; today, over tens of millions of copies of his books have been sold. In contrast to the society he wrote about the most, Fitzgerald’s stories are genuinely, profoundly beautiful. Perhaps unexpectedly, they’re also very easy to read, making books like The Great Gatsby a staple in high schools and colleges worldwide.
Fitzgerald’s four finished novels, This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender is the Night, and The Great Gatsby – along with collections of his short stories, Flappers and Philosophers, Tales of the Jazz Age and The Complete Pat Hobby Stories – are all available right now on Paperight.