While I haven’t read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, here are some of my condensed thoughts on some of his short stories.
Bernice Bobs Her Hair: Overall this was a light fluff piece with a slightly darker ending. An interesting fact is that Fitzgerald himself labeled this short story as trash. While I wouldn’t go that far, this story does lack the substance that normally exists in Fitzgerald’s more serious work. As well, I found racist Native American references to be largely unnecessary.
The Offshore Pirate: The romance itself is much like any modern romance: a formulaic guilty pleasure that is slightly sexist. Ardita, the main female character, does manage to pull off the impossible by not completely annoying me. Seriously, Fitzgerald has a talent for writing rich, entitled female characters in way that keeps me interested and not off-the-handle angry. (Largely due to his relationship with his wife Zelda, I’m sure.)
However, the romance aside, I was most surprised by the blatant racism in it, and I don’t just mean he used the word “negro”. In the background, the black characters thanklessly push forward the plot with odd moonlit dinners and atmospheric “exotic” dance music…like seriously, whyyy? Plus, the plot twist at the end unravels any characterization the black characters may have had.
The Cut-Glass Bowl: Oh, God, how I’m torn on this piece! Let me list all the things for you. First, the beginning is a bit hard to follow without a clear focus for a while. Second, the writing, especially at the end, is phenomenal, gorgeous, insane, beautiful, dark. No doubt about it. Third, it does worry me a little that the message behind the cut-glass bowl in the piece is almost a revenge fantasy for guys who have been rejected which is totally not okay and so disturbing. You see my problem?
The Ice Palace: This full circle story was less problematic than the rest but because of this it also did not stand out as much. The atmosphere is well-established and beautifully written, but I’m afraid that the main character’s dilemma came across as a bit melodramatic to me.
FINAL VERDICT: Today’s Final Verdict comes to you in three parts:
If you aren’t a Fitzgerald fan or scholar, check out “The Cut-Glass Bowl” and give the others a pass. If only for that ending, “The Cut-Glass Bowl” has some dark and beautiful imagery in it while the others fall shy of writing home about.
If you liked The Great Gatsby, read “The Cut-Glass Bowl” and skip the rest. Remember Fitzgerald as a lovely writer and nothing more, my friend.
If you LOVE Fitzgerald’s work, by which I mean you read This Side of Paradise and/or The Beautiful and Damned and still LOVE his work, then read all of these short stories, if you haven’t already.