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While Fitzgerald is best known for his novels, he spent a great deal of his professional life writing short stories -- a key source of income. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which was first published in Collier's in 1921, is one of his most clever. Benjamin Button is born an old man and mysteriously begins aging backward. The story was adapted for the big screen in a 2008 production that starred Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
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The impending release of a movie version starring Brad Pitt has made this humorous tale, formerly among the least known of Fitzgerald's short stories, a hot property. DeFillippis and Weir's adaptation preserves the original's straight-faced tone describing the career of a man who begins life in his 70s and grows progressively younger. If bystanders find this more than "curious," they usually are just irritated at Benjamin for not behaving like other people. He himself is surprised as his body morphs, but is always open to new possibilities; his good-natured adaptability gives the social satire a gentle edge. Readers should, of course, look up Fitzgerald's original, but there's much to enjoy in this handsome little hardbound book. Cornell's sepia watercolor panels are especially clever at showing physical and emotional changes as Benjamin moves backward through life while America rolls forward for 70 years. A useful, gracefully written afterword by Donald G. Sheehy, professor of English, completes the volume nicely.