Tales of the Jazz Age is a delightful, sobering, thought-provoking, and downright curious collection of 11 of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, published after his first two novels - This Side of Paradise (1920) and The Beautiful and Damned (1922) - but before The Great Gatsby (1925).
In Tales of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald takes on the mystery and confusion of love: from Southern temptations ("The Jellybean") to humorous ("The Camel’s Back") to poignant ("The Lees of Happiness") to heartbreakingly cruel ("O Russet Witch") to gay-but-tempered in post-World War I New York, with its dark undertones of alcoholism, communism, a liberal press, and the treatment of returning veterans (May Day).
Fitzgerald moves away from the real world and takes the listener into the fantasy of a gemstone that is, literally, the size of a mountain ("The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"), with echoes of H. G. Wells and rough government authority flying into the story. But, staying with fantasies, Fitzgerald also treats the listener to two plays (Porcelain and Pink and Mr. Icky) that will bring smiles and a few good laughs to the listener’s ears.
It is hard to categorize "The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button" except to say that the listener of this audiobook who has seen or heard about the recent movie of the same name should not - must not - expect anything like that. About all you need to know about Benjamin Button is that his birth and life were anything but normal.
In "Tarquin of Cheapside", Fitzgerald tries out his inner Shakespeare, with an Elizabethan setting and characters that take the listener down dark London streets and into a rather unexpected but satisfying conclusion. And if London of the 16th century is not enough color for the listener of this audiobook, then "Jemina, the Mountain Girl" will transport you deep into the Kentucky hills, where family feuds over moonshine and card games bring two lovers together in one hot romance.