Thursday, September 11, 2008

Short Story September #1: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Fitzgerald

Title: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

When I found out about CB's Short Story September Challenge I had all of these grand ideas about reading a ton of short stories. The truth is, I'm kind of bad when it comes to reading them. I do love them, but I think I have a tendency to pick apart the stories so I don't necessarily enjoy them as much when I'm reading them alone. I do short stories better in a classroom setting where I can analyze with others.

But, I'm going to try and put all of that analyzing aside and simply enjoy a few great stories!! So, with the upcoming movie, I thought "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" would be perfect. And I love Fitzgerald--so how can you go wrong with that?

"The Curious Case" follows the life of Benjamin from birth until death. The curious part about Benjamin is that he is born as an old man and ages in reverse so that at the time of death he is an infant. Kind of reminds me of the criticism that we spend our youth working our butts off so that we can enjoy it when we are too old to. But with Benjamin, as he "ages" his mentality goes with it. When he is born, he has all of the stubbornness of a 70 year old man and in old age has all of the purity and innocence of a child. The story touches upon all of the milestones of a man's life with the twist of Benjamin's reverse aging and the troubles and incongruities it presents.

This is a heartbreaking story in many ways, and Fitzgerald tells stories so beautifully.
On the night that Benjamin meets Hildegard Moncrief:

"It was a gorgeous evening. A full moon drenched the road to the lustreless color of platinum, and late-blooming harvest flowers breathed into the motionless air aromas that were like low, half-heard laughter. The open country, carpeted for rods around with bright wheat, was translucent as in the day. It was almost impossible not to be affected by the sheer beauty of the sky--almost" (from The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald p. 170)

Other Fitzgerald stories I'd recommend: "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz," and "May Day."

How's that for enjoying? And now for your viewing pleasure--watch the gorgeous trailer for the upcoming movie. It's hard to understand how the movie will work, but doesn't it look enticing anyway? I have a weakness for previews (and Brad Pitt), and I could watch this one over and over.

27 comments:

Fyrefly said...

When I first saw the trailers for this, I thought "Wow, that sounds exactly like The Confessions of Max Tivoli - I wonder why they changed the name" I had no idea it was a Fitzgerald story first... now I'm going to have to re-evaluate how I felt about Max Tivoli - I had thought it was such an original concept. Oops!

Ramya said...

i came across this challenge and i wanted to do it as well.. but i kinda felt that blogging about every story i read might take more time than the actual reading of the story.. don't know if i'll have time for that.. but i have read some pretty interesting ones. now that i have seen your review, i am motivated to join and write about what i read too!:)

Anna said...

This sounds like an interesting story. I better read it before the movie comes out because once I see a movie, I likely won't pick up the book!

Terri B. said...

The trailer does indeed look intriguing. I look forward to it! Of course, I'll have to dig out the story first and read it. Something to look forward to during the Christmas holidays :o)

Trish said...

*Fyrefly - I've always wondered Max Tivoli and have almosted picked it up a few times but thought it sounded a little like The Time Traveler's Wife. And actually, Fitzgerald mentions that Mark Twain was an inspiration for this story but that after he wrote it he saw something else similar to it in publication.

*Ramya - I don't really know how to write about short stories because I *try* not to focus my reviews on plot and with only 20-30 pages a story, it is difficult not to give too much away! I hope you join us, though!! There are some great stories out there.

*Anna - my copy is only 21 pages long--so you could definitely read this in an afternoon!

*Terri - I love the holiday season because of all the movies. Although I'm really looking forward to the Coen Bros movie that comes out tomorrow!! This one looks really good as well--I love this preview.

Ashlee and Shane said...

Have you ever read Aunt Karenina? What did you think of it? I have an extremely hard time getting into books. If i can get 100 pages in then i am usually stuck and will read it all. Those first 100 pages drag for me though.

Dar said...

I've never really been one for short stories but this does sound interesting. I love the piece you quoted-what a beautiful use of words.

Nymeth said...

You're making me very curious about Fitzgerald, Trish! I've never read him, and somehow I had him paired him Joyce in my mind, but I'm starting to suspect that's completely off. I really like that passage you shared. I think I'll try some of his short stories, and if I like them I'll move on to the novels.

Ashlee and Shane said...

I totally meant to type "anna" not "aunt"... :)Also, you made me want to read EAT PRAY LOVE, so i went out and bought it and am starting it right now! :)

Trish said...

*Ashlee - I find that so hard to believe (you not being able to get into books) since you were an English major! Maybe you just haven't found something you really love yet. Hope you like Eat Pray Love--I left a note on your blog about it. :)

*Dar - I love short stories but I'm lazy when it comes to actually picking them up. I guess maybe because finishing one isn't quite as satisfying as finishing a novel? I love Fitzgerald's stories, though. Glad you liked the quote.

*Nymeth - What??? :) I greatly dislike Joyce. Greatly! I took a Fitzgerald/Hemingway course my last summer of grad school and fell in love with his writing (both longer fiction and short). I love Tender is the Night. I'll be curious to hear what you think if you decide to read some of his short stories (he is accused of being a hack writer by some--namely Hemingway).

Dar said...

I think that's my problem with short stories Trish. I really like a novel because I can really get into it and have it around a bit.

Nari said...

I loved this short story. It was so different from The Great Gatsby, I had to keep reminding myself it was indeed written by Fitzgerald. Have you read any of his other short stories from the collection, The Tales of the Jazz Age?

Kim L said...

I love the preview already! What an interesting concept! I want to totally see this one. Maybe read the story, but definitely see Brad Pitt :-)

Trish said...

*Dar - I completely understand. If not for school, I probably would have never picked one up on my own.

*Nari - The collection that I have is "The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald" I believe it is completely, but I could be wrong. I've read several of them--maybe a dozen and have really liked most of them. I've also read some of his novels: This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, and Tender is the Night.

*Kim - Isn't that preview great?? It should be an interesting movie.

Bellezza said...

Ever since I saw the preview for this film I was entranced; even more so when I saw that it was written by Scott Fitzgerald! I really want to read it, even though I'm not such a short story fanatic.

Laura said...

You--over-analyzing?? NEVER! :)

I didn't know that the upcoming movie was based on a short story! I also have never read anything else by Fitzgerald besides The Great Gatsby, which I LOVED, so I might have to see if I can find a collection. I don't often read short stories, but I don't dislike them! Maybe they would be a good thing to have on hand for the read-a-thon to get little breaks here and there.

I'm still really sad you aren't going to be able to participate this time :(

Joy said...

I haven't been an active short story reader until this year. I have found that I really like them - a lot! I hope to read many more next year. Maybe a Fitzgerald needs to be added to my list, huh? :) Interestingly enough, today I picked up Runaway (Munro) and I'm enjoying the first one already.

Trish said...

*Bellezza - This isn't my favorite story of his but it was still fun to read in anticipation of the movie. I can't wait to see how they adapt it to a longer film.

*Laura - The collection that I have is more or less complete, but you're welcome to borrow it if you'd like! I've also heard that Tales of a Jazz Age is good. I didn't know this was a Fitzgerald story, but I recognized the name--so of course I looked it up and realized I already had a copy of the story! And I don't overanalyze things--I don't know what you're talking about!! ;)

*Joy - I'm glad you're enjoying the short stories! How did the Oxford reader work out for you? I think I'll pick something from there for my next short story read. I've never read anything by Munro, but I've heard good things about her.

Joy said...

I believe I've only read one from the Oxford, but have a bookmark set for my next pick. I've been concentrating on getting books read for other challenges.

Trish said...

Joy - I completely understand--that's part of the reason why I put of short stories as well. Too many challege books to read. Which is kind of silly of me since most short stories are less than 30 pages!

Bookfool said...

I used to think I hated short stories but I've recently realized I was wrong about myself. Blogging about them is kind of exhausting, though; I did try. I set up a separate blog and then kept avoiding it. Nobody was reading it, anyway.

I highly, highly recommend short stories by Nabokov. Don't know if I've read any by Fitzgerald, but I'll have to see if this one is lurking around my house (you just never know). I love Fitzgerald -- what little of his work that I've read. In the Land of Dreamy Dreams by Ellen Gilchrist is a fascinating book of short stories, if you're looking. I've just received a book of Katherine Mansfield's stories, also -- we'll see how that goes! I waited nearly 2 years for a copy to become available at Paperback Swap, so I sure hope I like it!!

Charley said...

I've seen the trailer for the film, but I had no idea it was based on a short story, by F. Scott Fitzgerald no less. Thanks to your post, I learned something new today.

Trish said...

*Bookfool - Wow! Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've still not read anything by Nabokov, but I have Lolita on my shelf and need to read it soon. In my various anthologies there are a few Katherine Mansfield stories, but I've yet to get to them either. I guess I have some work to do!

*Charley - When I saw the preview the first time I was entranced. I recognized the name but didn't realize who wrote it until I googled it. Definitely didn't realize it was based on a short story!

Terri B. said...

Yes! I'm with you on the new Coen Bros. movie. Must.Get.To.Theater.To.See.Coen Brothers movie! Seems like there are spells with nothing I want to see and then there will be a rush of movies I must see.

Trish said...

It seems like the fall is when the movies push for the Oscar race and so to me some of the better ones come out around this season. I can't believe that Harry Potter got moved back to the summer, though. Very disappointed about that!

mills62joe said...

i just finished a harsh biography of hemingway and it never mentioned whether he made a public review or commentary on this FScott piece. any one know if he ever publicly commented on it.

the bastardhem seemed quite justified in harming his drinking buddy in fscott's true confessions

Trish said...

*Mills62Joe - I took a grad course a few years ago on Hemingway and Fitzgerald. It was a fascinating class and what a bunch of grown men acting like children! I don't know if Hemingway commented directly on this piece itself, but he did make a few jabs at Fitz in some of his writings--I believe there is something in Hill Like White Elephants that is an attack on Fitzgerald, but I can't remember what. Hemingway thought Fitzgerald was a hack--and I think even Fitzgerald would have admitted that, but I do prefer his writing. Anyway--enough ranting from me...don't even know if you're going to read this. :)