The Diamond as Big as The Ritz and other stories (F. Scott Fitzgerlad, 1922)
I picked up this book just before Baz Luhrmann's latest release. It put me in the mood of reading more F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I didn't feel like doing a reread of The Great Gatsby. Initially, I was looking for This Side of Paradise, after reading about it in Louise Brooks' biography. The book was described as one of the setting stones of the flapper movement. I couldn't find it and I thought that short stories weren't a bad idea for a further introduction to Fitzgerald's style.
For someone who is often proclaimed as the epitomizing writer of the twenties, I thought it was peculiar how often he liked to write about epic 'losers' (judging solely from The Great Gatsby and this collection, I have no idea what his other works are about). It sometimes made me wonder if he actually felt any tenderness towards his contemporaries. I guess that the fact he makes them the leads of his stories is some sort of proof of endearment but I'm undecided. Is it empathy or misanthropy? What do you think?
From the first couple of short stories in this collection, I thought his intention was to portray the effect of the twenties on different kind of people according to their age or their socio-economic status but then it all went a bit science-fiction-y and pretty mad, I stopped thinking and just enjoyed the ride.
My copy comprises of the following short stories: The Cut-Glass Bowl, May Day, The Diamond as Big as The Ritz, The Rich Boy, Crazy Sunday, An Alcoholic Case, The Lees of Happiness and The Lost Decade.
Favourite quote: It is youth's felicity as well as its insufficiency that it can never live in the present, but must always be measuring up the day against its own radiantly imagined future - flowers and gold, girls and stars, they are only prefigurations and prophecies of that incomparable, unattainable young dream.
(from the short story The Diamond as Big as The Ritz)