20 October 2016

Review #539: All the Sad Young Men by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back anymore. The gates were closed, the sun was down, and there was no beauty left but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of youth, of illusion, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.”

----F. Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, an American writer, published his collection of short stories, All the Sad Young Men after the fame of his most popular novel, The Great Gatsby where the author has used the same themes of flapper and Jazz age, where the rich men and women had the time of their lives without giving a care about other people around them. This collection reflects that era in American when money mixed with sweat looked like glitter and emotions ran wild among the folks.


Published a year after The Great Gatsby, this short-story collection showcases many of the celebrated novel’s themes, as well as its unique writing style. Two of the most famous tales, the beautifully elegiac ‘The Rich Boy’ and ‘Winter Dreams’, deal with wealthy protagonists – the old-money Anson Hunter and the self-made man Dexter Green – as they come to terms with lost love; while ‘Absolution’, in which a boy confesses to a priest, was initially written as a background piece to The Great Gatsby.

Also containing ‘The Baby Party’, ‘Rags Martin-Jones and the Pr–nce of W–les’, ‘The Adjuster’, ‘Hot and Cold Blood’, ‘The Sensible Thing’ and ‘Gretchen’s Forty Winks’ – all of which describe in various ways the 1920s society that Fitzgerald himself inhabited – All the Sad Young Men is a masterpiece of twentieth-century American fiction.

If Fitzgerald's long-length novels like The Great Gatsby or This Side of Paradise have allured you with his eloquent and exquisite writing style and prose, then you must look away from his short stories collection All the Sad Young Men where the stories no doubt reflect that unmatched flair of Fitzgerald but lacks emotions or depth from the story lines. So grab this book, only if you want to have an idea or to feel Fitzgerald's writing style through these short quick stories.

Except one or two stories, the rest are mildly fulfilling and engaging enough to continue reading this book till the very last page. As you all know, Fitzgerald portrays his protagonists as someone rich or going to be rich someday very soon or an heir to a rich, established business or someone belonging from an affluent family, in each and every story, you will find such protagonists, mostly men and few women, who are unexceptionally beautiful, filthy rich and wants to exploit the emotions of men with their careless demeanor. But then again, the characters feel very real, the human who are very rich from a financial standpoint, are actually very fickle minded and emotionally vacant, and in our everyday lives, we might have come across such people at some time.

My personal favorites from this book are Gretchen's Forty Winks, Absolution and The Baby Party which are bit unusual and the characters are striking enough to leave an impression in the minds of the readers. These few stories are not only intriguing but are quite composite to get through the character's emotional despair and restlessness. The characters maybe are not layered but are real and voices their stories with a perceptive voice, that is thought provocative for the readers. Also not to mention, these few stories are extremely high on morality, life's values and lessons underlying with an important message.

In a nutshell, this is a compelling enough book to edge the readers away from the book hangovers or to lust on Fitzgerald's suggestive writing style or to feel the 20s era in America with flappers, rich with the smell of green money, glittery dresses and golden dreams.

Verdict: A bite into the world of one of the greatest American writer, Fitzgerald's delectable slice of literature.

Author Info:
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works have been seen as evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he himself allegedly coined. He is regarded as one of the greatest twentieth century writers. Fitzgerald was of the self-styled "Lost Generation," Americans born in the 1890s who came of age during World War I. He finished four novels, left a fifth unfinished, and wrote dozens of short stories that treat themes of youth, despair, and age. He was married to Zelda Fitzgerald.
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