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Babylon Revisited and Other Stories (Alma Classics)

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Set in the year after the 1929 crash and incorporating many autobiographical elements, 'Babylon Revisited' tells the story of the widower Charlie Wales, a reformed alcoholic and successful businessman returning to Paris to convince his in-laws to give him back the daughter he abandoned. As the old haunts of the city he used to carouse in seem more and more alien to him, he Set in the year after the 1929 crash and incorporating many autobiographical elements, 'Babylon Revisited' tells the story of the widower Charlie Wales, a reformed alcoholic and successful businessman returning to Paris to convince his in-laws to give him back the daughter he abandoned. As the old haunts of the city he used to carouse in seem more and more alien to him, he finds himself assailed by feelings of guilt and regret.


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Set in the year after the 1929 crash and incorporating many autobiographical elements, 'Babylon Revisited' tells the story of the widower Charlie Wales, a reformed alcoholic and successful businessman returning to Paris to convince his in-laws to give him back the daughter he abandoned. As the old haunts of the city he used to carouse in seem more and more alien to him, he Set in the year after the 1929 crash and incorporating many autobiographical elements, 'Babylon Revisited' tells the story of the widower Charlie Wales, a reformed alcoholic and successful businessman returning to Paris to convince his in-laws to give him back the daughter he abandoned. As the old haunts of the city he used to carouse in seem more and more alien to him, he finds himself assailed by feelings of guilt and regret.

30 review for Babylon Revisited and Other Stories (Alma Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Plumb

    Ten stories that are masterfully created, but I will focus solely on one: Babylon Revisited. No word is wasted or unnecessary in this greatest of F. Scott Fitzgerald's stories. Perhaps only Gatsby gets us to the finish line in such an eloquent and timely manner. In this story, the main character, expatriate Charlie, returns to Paris (His home during the 20's boom) after the depression (story is written in 1931). The city has changed, and so has he; broker, soberer, depressed, a widow (which some Ten stories that are masterfully created, but I will focus solely on one: Babylon Revisited. No word is wasted or unnecessary in this greatest of F. Scott Fitzgerald's stories. Perhaps only Gatsby gets us to the finish line in such an eloquent and timely manner. In this story, the main character, expatriate Charlie, returns to Paris (His home during the 20's boom) after the depression (story is written in 1931). The city has changed, and so has he; broker, soberer, depressed, a widow (which some of the drama derives from), and seeking forgiveness for his sins, he is back solely to regain custody of his daughter whom he has lost touch with after living "high on the hop." A series of conversations and bad encounters try to pull Charlie back into his drunken, selfish ways, of which Fitzgerald writes masterfully. The story is about redemption and maturing, and facing our own demons. The end could be construed as sad or hopeful, although I tend to believe the later. The autobiographical content is what makes it so much more personal. This is probably the closest we get to Fitzgerald's life (maybe Tender is the Night), as he writes about the responsibility of losing a spouse, (as Zelda was now institutionalized after a decade of hard living) the cost of addiction (which Scott and Zelda could attest to) and materialism over family (which cost Scott his wife and later separated him from his daughter Scottie). After the depression, Fitzgerald was a has been, a writer from a different age, who was passed over by writers who understood human suffering like Steinbeck, Faulkner, and even Hemingway...and yet, this story captures that moment after the crash and puts it into perspective in a way that none of those aforementioned authors could touch: emotional bankruptcy. I could talk about the language, the beautiful passages, the pitch perfect dialogue between father and daughter, the masterfully plotted pace and setups...but that is what you can discover. I've read a lot of short stories, took classes on them, and taught them for a number of years, and no other story gets as much bang for the buck as this story. It helps having a working knowledge of the booming 20s and the depression, the expatriate crowd in France, and Fitzgerald's biography, but none of it is necessary to appreciate the story of a man moving beyond his personal failures to try and create some semblance of familial normalcy after a lifetime of excess.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Over the years I've come to realize that my first encounter with "Babylon Revisited" is a crucial reason why I've developed a tendency toward preemptive nostalgia. Even at the moments I'm most blissfully content there's a part of my mind always already mourning the fact any present happiness is destined to quickly slip into the past tense. This line in particular has emblazoned itself into my memory, and still makes me shiver: "I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and Over the years I've come to realize that my first encounter with "Babylon Revisited" is a crucial reason why I've developed a tendency toward preemptive nostalgia. Even at the moments I'm most blissfully content there's a part of my mind always already mourning the fact any present happiness is destined to quickly slip into the past tense. This line in particular has emblazoned itself into my memory, and still makes me shiver: "I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone." What's to ever guarantee that more good times are ahead? I actually first read Fitzgerald's celebrated short story during one of the most sustained stretches of happiness I've ever experienced. I was an American student studying in London, my first time away from home for an extended period of time, and I was relishing every minute of it. This story was assigned for a class on expatriate American writers I was taking, and I distinctly remember a startling sensation of imagining myself returning at some point in the future to the large, warmly sunlit sitting room I often and was at that moment reading in, and ruefully recalling how truly wonderful that exact moment was, and how was it possible I didn't manage to recognize it at the time? "Babylon Revisited" haunted the rest of my semester—in a good, productive way, I should note—and, really, ever since. At his best Fitzgerald composed prose that sparkles like so many diamonds upon the page. But here the crystalline phrasing not only glitters—it lacerates too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mahima

    Reading Fitzgerald is my favourite thing ever. There's this very naked and very stark beauty to Fitzgerald's writing that I haven't found in any other writer. I hadn't read a lot of his short stories before this, and I'm really glad I picked this up. Loved every story (except The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, which despite hearing good things about it I thought was just okay) in this particular collection, my favourite being The Rich Boy and Babylon Revisited. I'm starting to pick up that a few th Reading Fitzgerald is my favourite thing ever. There's this very naked and very stark beauty to Fitzgerald's writing that I haven't found in any other writer. I hadn't read a lot of his short stories before this, and I'm really glad I picked this up. Loved every story (except The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, which despite hearing good things about it I thought was just okay) in this particular collection, my favourite being The Rich Boy and Babylon Revisited. I'm starting to pick up that a few themes are common to most of Fitzgerald's work which bring to fore the ugly underbelly of the Jazz Age, and most of them also seem to have some semblance of an autobiographical element to them. Reading these stories reminded me a lot of Gatsby (one of my all time favourites) and I'm eager to finally read my next Fitzgerald novel although I'm not sure which one I'll pick up first.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I just have to say, I love Fitzgerald the person-- with all his faults and foibles and brilliance-- in a way that feels deeply personal to me that I can't quite explain. But I also have to say that his writing can be very uneven at times. Of course, there's Gatsby. No doubt it's one of The Great Books. Full stop, thanks for playing, Hemingway eat your heart out. But as far as his fictional output goes, I think there's a lot of ups and downs. Gatsby stands as a beacon, a triumph. Tender is the I just have to say, I love Fitzgerald the person-- with all his faults and foibles and brilliance-- in a way that feels deeply personal to me that I can't quite explain. But I also have to say that his writing can be very uneven at times. Of course, there's Gatsby. No doubt it's one of The Great Books. Full stop, thanks for playing, Hemingway eat your heart out. But as far as his fictional output goes, I think there's a lot of ups and downs. Gatsby stands as a beacon, a triumph. Tender is the Night captivated me for an afternoon in a pizza shop when I was in High School, but I couldn't tell you the first thing about it. Always meant to re-read it. This Side of Paradise was very fun when I read it, as a young person, which is when you should. And I tried looking over at it again and was like whaaat? Then there's the stories. I wrote recently about The Great Gatsby: https://thebaffler.com/latest/gatsbys... And I decided I'd try out this little dozen story collection, which I'd read some of before many years ago and thought it would be worth trying again. You can really see him improving over the years. The first stories are from the early 1920's when he was just burning and churning his way to literary immortality, one cigarette and martini at a time. They progress dramatically in terms of depth, wider canvases, and more interesting characters as the years and the disillusionment progressed. It shouldn't be forgotten that his career skyrocketed up to superstardom early and then plummeted steadily, to the point where he died thinking himself a drunken failure who would be forgotten. And ironically, his writing got better and better. I wonder how his shade might feel if it looked at the way he's venerated (and rightly so) these days, and how obviously he's assumed to be Great; both for his famously, fabulously Lost Generation and just in the general pantheon of American writers. That posthumous greatness is sweet in a certain way and deeply bitter in another-- it represented everything he'd ever hoped for, after he'd gotten everything he'd ever wanted, and it was everything he thought he'd lost forever. Here's my quick and nasty take on each of the stories: The Ice Palace: Meh, kind of labored and conceptual. Not super convincing that he understands much about the Deep South setting. The eponymous palace is fairly convincing at times, though. And some nice moments of suspense. Maybe it's just something that went over better for Saturday Evening Post readers. You get the sense that FSF is getting a little bit high on his own supply. May Day: Big improvement, in terms of writing stuff that is more lived-in, more vivid. Writing more clearly about what he knows, the drink-sodden screwups in the Ivy League set. Larger canvas, lots of small but pointed moments between very disparate groups of people. Doesn't really seem to understand some of the historical gravitas of That Day. Ending's a bit rushed, and you can tell that he sort of ran out of narrative gas and decided to end it with a flourish. Again, he was probably playing to the readership that was paying his bills, which I don't judge him for. The Diamond As Big As The Ritz: This one really surprised me. I remember being blown away by it when I read it in the High School library. Kind of surreal, elaborate imagination, very cinematic. There is a more sarcastic sense of social critique-- really, the guy's family LIVES in the house that is a diamond that's in a mountain? Whaa?-- and the pilots sort of weirdly stuck in the crevice. It's wild, almost sci-fi, I didn't expect it to be so strange. Winter Dreams: Another story I remember just tearing me up back when I read it, in English class, with the teacher with the famously squeaky voice who seemed kind of caught up with the poignance of the story when he was going through the motions of teaching it to a bunch of bored sophomores in a mid-level English class. I like the premise, remembering old relationships that coulda shoulda gone another way. I think it could have more potential if I re-read it. The ending is intended to be almost a soliloquy for the main character, but it rings a bit hollow. People don't really talk like that, that grandiosely, even in the twenties. It's a little telegraphed, how this person is trying to explain how he feels. It makes the first-person character sound like an omniscient narrator. Absolution- It was once intended to be a part of TGG, as Gatsby's backstory, which is interesting. A little bit too blatantly allegorical, a little creepy even. A priest who is babbling incoherently about guilt and avoiding sin to an emotional and ambitious young man? Huh. Better to have cut it and let it stand on its own. The Rich Boy- More of a novella than a story. Did the lit magazines have really small print back in the day? Hundreds of pages? I guess two editions of Redbook (!?!) were enough to do the trick. Here's one of the FSF scholars on the story, which I saw on Wiki and I think is pretty apt: "'The Rich Boy' is a key document for understanding Fitzgerald's much-discussed and much-misunderstood attitudes toward the rich. He was not an envious admirer of the rich, who believed they possessed a special quality. In 1938 he observed: 'That was always my experience—a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy's school; a poor boy in a rich man's club at Princeton...I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works.' He knew the lives of the rich had great possibilities, but he recognized that they mostly failed to use those possibilities fully. He also perceived that money corrupts the will to excellence. Believing that work is the only dignity, he condemned the self-indulgent rich for wasting their freedom." Here's the often-misquoted and drastically shortened line about the rich being very different from you and me: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves." Today, we'd talk about entitlement and toxic masculinity, which would be totally appropriate to apply to this story. And the satirical, precise, and fiercely observed class distinctions are there. That's something FSF doesn't necessarily get as much credit for as he deserves to, since he tended to play the fop. The Freshest Boy- Surprisingly detailed and sensitive character study of an insecure college kid. I didn't realize I would be as touched as I was by the end. Some people need the smallest things to get through life. "It isn't given to us to know those rare moments when people are wide open and the lightest touch can wither or heal. A moment too late and we can never reach them any more in this world. They will not be cured by our most efficacious drugs or slain with our sharpest swords." Babylon Revisited: Kind of a let down. I'm not a big fan of stories that are structured as a series of conversations and that flit around from place to place. Crazy Sunday- A real gem. A little glimpse of that intimate side of Hollywood, the shady resentments and subtle backbiting, careerism, and the way people with real possibilities for advancement use and are used by each other. People love to want to be one of the beautiful people but the beautiful people aren't all their cracked up to be. The Long Way Out- Another gem. A compact, tightly controlled story about willful delusion and the need to sustain it. It can't be an accident that it's about someone who's gone off the rails, which FSF knew about perfectly well from both inside and outside, and about how the people around her deal with and sustain her delusions. By that point, 1937, he'd hit enough bumps in the road to know something about the beauty and the price of delusions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Notaro

    There are some kooky stories here, but classics, too. Short stories were FSF's bread and butter, but they can't shine as much as the novels. Always a good, solid read. There are some kooky stories here, but classics, too. Short stories were FSF's bread and butter, but they can't shine as much as the novels. Always a good, solid read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    A 1960 paperback, likely from somebody's academic past. Pretty good shape. 1 - "The Ice Palace" - Southern belle goes North and doesn't like winter so much. FSF was a Minnesota native, but it would seem that he was more of a Southerner at heart. 2 - "May Day" - Lives and events criss-cross in annoying, amusing and deadly ways over the course of a long chaotic evening/night/morning in Manhattan. An exercise in impressionistic, verbal creativity. 3 - "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" - I'm lost as to A 1960 paperback, likely from somebody's academic past. Pretty good shape. 1 - "The Ice Palace" - Southern belle goes North and doesn't like winter so much. FSF was a Minnesota native, but it would seem that he was more of a Southerner at heart. 2 - "May Day" - Lives and events criss-cross in annoying, amusing and deadly ways over the course of a long chaotic evening/night/morning in Manhattan. An exercise in impressionistic, verbal creativity. 3 - "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" - I'm lost as to what to make of this story. It takes place in fantasyland, but I assume it has to be about SOMETHING. I have the very vaguest recollection of having read this before - a LONG time ago. 4 - "Winter Dreams" - Probably the most anthologized of FSF's short stories and a precursor to "The Great Gatsby." Young goddess Judy Jones is the love/obsession object in the story. Very, very bitter melancholy ending. If you're on the edge of depression, leading this might push you over. My third read of the story. 5 - "Absolution" - Another re-read. This story features great prose skills to murky effect. A suggestion of the early life of Jimmy Gatz is there. Reminds of an Alice Munro story about an angry, abusive father. 6 - "The Rich Boy" - The longest story in the collection is a low-key mini epic about the love life of a privileged young Manhattan-ite. It's kind of an emotional and relationship inventory of aloofness. If that makes any sense. 7 - "The Freshest Boy" - A possibly autobiographic tale of a brash lad who learns to smarten up a bit and thereby get along better with the rest of the world. A side character in this tale is a Yale football hero named Ted Fay. There was real-life Yale football hero of the time named Ted Coy. Wikipedia actually mentions this. 8 - "Babylon Revisited" - I think I read this one many years ago. In the wake of that "Lost Generation" thing. Party party party. The the Great Depression "ruined" everything. 9 - "Crazy Sunday" - Life in Hollywood in the early 30's = lots of drinking and fooling around. 10 - "The Long Way" - What some people might do to avoid suffering. Interesting. - And so to the rating of a satisfying, though not transcendent read - a solid 3.75* rounds up to 4* Nothing's as good as "The Great Gatsby" = it's tough to compete with yourself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    I love F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it makes me sad that I've already read all his novels, but I'm happy that he wrote so many short stories for me to enjoy. I like this collection because the first story, "The Ice Palace," was written in 1920, pre-Gatsby, and the last one, "The Long Way Out," was 1937, when Zelda was already in the sanitarium, and Scott already lived in California. His writing is drastically different as is his subject matter. The book is a great cross section of a great writer's c I love F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it makes me sad that I've already read all his novels, but I'm happy that he wrote so many short stories for me to enjoy. I like this collection because the first story, "The Ice Palace," was written in 1920, pre-Gatsby, and the last one, "The Long Way Out," was 1937, when Zelda was already in the sanitarium, and Scott already lived in California. His writing is drastically different as is his subject matter. The book is a great cross section of a great writer's career, from beginning to almost end. I love Scott's writing, so I enjoyed all the stories, but rereading "Babylon Revisited" reminded me of how good Scott was at his best. There's always that something in his writing for me, an undertone that makes all his stories and books feel like magical realism even though they contain no "actual" magic. But "Babylon" is him at his peak, just as Gatsby is. The writing, the tone, the characters,the plot...they're all perfect, not one word misplaced, no awkwardness, everything is essential, and it all works and comes together to leave the reader with a feeling, an uncomfortable longing and understanding. It's brilliant. I'm obsessed, obviously, but regardless of my obsession, Scott is a classic American writer for a reason. He always will be, I hope, but you have to read him, so I'm recommending this. Read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Mousseau

    Babylon Revisited contains what I consider to be Fitzgerald's best piece. That piece, so-called because of its precarious length (somewhere between a short story and novella), is "May Day". Fitzgerald described the story as illustrating "general hysteria [...] that inaugurated the Jazz Age"; it has been described elsewhere Fitzgerald's most raw, most political, and most desperate work. Babylon Revisited contains what I consider to be Fitzgerald's best piece. That piece, so-called because of its precarious length (somewhere between a short story and novella), is "May Day". Fitzgerald described the story as illustrating "general hysteria [...] that inaugurated the Jazz Age"; it has been described elsewhere Fitzgerald's most raw, most political, and most desperate work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    i can't find my exact copy of what i purchased from half priced books, so i'll just claim i'm reading the same one that jamie read. this book is so old. it smells like 1955, and the pages are a sickly yellow-brown. i cannot wait. for the stories of course. of course. despite smelling great the whole time, the book wore me down halfway through. if nothing else, this is a timeline for fitzgerald's own life, and the amout of autobiography one can extract from each story is immense. going in chronolog i can't find my exact copy of what i purchased from half priced books, so i'll just claim i'm reading the same one that jamie read. this book is so old. it smells like 1955, and the pages are a sickly yellow-brown. i cannot wait. for the stories of course. of course. despite smelling great the whole time, the book wore me down halfway through. if nothing else, this is a timeline for fitzgerald's own life, and the amout of autobiography one can extract from each story is immense. going in chronological order more or less, the beginning traces a plethora of gay old cocktail parties and debutante balls and all of the roaring 20s one could stand. leaving me very thrity for a high ball during each tale, the characters' predicaments are just ridiculous enough and their handling, equal parts lovable and detestable. through the depression, his stories become more and more cloaked or shall i say soaked in the author's own alcoholism. you feel you're reading stories about the same dashing young men from the Yale club on page 60, only now, on page 400 they're crying into their soda water in some hazy French bar about the millions they lost. all in all, a perfect picture of the author's life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam Tornio

    Like looking at the night from a library window.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Merry

    I’m not really much of an F Scott Fitzgerald fan nor do j care for short stories, so what was I thinking when I started this book? Therefore take my whole review with a big grain of salt. In addition some of the short stories were as crazy as all get out. If they had been written by a no-name, nobody would have paid the least bit of attention to them. So why did I read this book? Our library, which is closed due to Covid for everything except drop-off and pick-up has started this great idea of “ I’m not really much of an F Scott Fitzgerald fan nor do j care for short stories, so what was I thinking when I started this book? Therefore take my whole review with a big grain of salt. In addition some of the short stories were as crazy as all get out. If they had been written by a no-name, nobody would have paid the least bit of attention to them. So why did I read this book? Our library, which is closed due to Covid for everything except drop-off and pick-up has started this great idea of “bundling books” by genre. So I picked up a “classic” bundle. Looking forward to the others!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    The Fitzgerald short stories in this collection were selected well after Fitzgerald's death so do not reflect a particular time in his life or career; indeed the first story, the Ice Palace, was written in 1920 well before Gatsby was written and the last three, Babylon Revisited, Crazy Sunday and The Long Way Out, were written in 1931, 1932, and 1937 respectively-after the roaring twenties that is so closely associated with Fitzgerald and after America's great depression and also after Fitzgeral The Fitzgerald short stories in this collection were selected well after Fitzgerald's death so do not reflect a particular time in his life or career; indeed the first story, the Ice Palace, was written in 1920 well before Gatsby was written and the last three, Babylon Revisited, Crazy Sunday and The Long Way Out, were written in 1931, 1932, and 1937 respectively-after the roaring twenties that is so closely associated with Fitzgerald and after America's great depression and also after Fitzgerald and his wife were on the losing side against the demons in their lives Babylon Revisited is one of my all time favorite short stories. Charlie comes to Paris to visit her daughter who is living with his sister and brother in law. As the narrative of his visit unfolds the reader learns that Charlie and his wife lived wildly in the excesses of 1920s Paris, that Charlie lost his fortune, his wife lost her life and Charlie lost custody of his daughter to his sister in law who clearly despises Charlie. As the story progresses we learn that his daughter clearly loves Charlie, that Charlie has turned his life around, is sober and regained much of his fortune but that he is still battling temptations from his past This is as good a picture of regrets for past mistakes in the midst of a difficult battle toward redemption as I've ever read as shown by the following excerpt when he visited an old haunt of his excesses shortly after having dinner with his daughter "..All the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he suddenly realized the meaning of 'dissipate"-to dissipate into thin air, to make nothing out of something. In the little hours of the night every move from place to place was an enormous human jump, an increase of paying for the privilege of slower and slower motion He remembered thousand franc notes given to an orchestra for playing a single number, hundred franc notes tossed to a doorman for calling a cab. But it hadn't been for nothing It had been given, even the most wildly squandered sum, as an offering to destiny that he might not remember the things most worth remembering, the things that now he would always remember--his child taken from his control, his wife escaped to a grave in Vermont" While this is my favorite in the collection, the other nine are all good and the appeal of this collection is to follow the development of Fitzgerald's writing from a 1920 story about the tension between the laid back south and the ambitious north to stories set in the midst of the roaring twenties to the final three that were written and set in a time after the roaring twenties came to a crashing end

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hiser

    Literature from the 1920s and 30s is some of my favorite. The "Lost Generation" writers (including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos and others) captured a moment when the world struggled with its loss of innocence following World War I as it realized the horrors people could commit on a mass scale. Though writers like Fitzgerald often captured the decadence of the times, under the surface of the parties is a tension that suggests that decadence is not much more than an escape from the horror of Literature from the 1920s and 30s is some of my favorite. The "Lost Generation" writers (including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos and others) captured a moment when the world struggled with its loss of innocence following World War I as it realized the horrors people could commit on a mass scale. Though writers like Fitzgerald often captured the decadence of the times, under the surface of the parties is a tension that suggests that decadence is not much more than an escape from the horror of the first world war and an unsatisfactory denial of the evil in humankind. This collection of short stories by Fitzgerald, though somewhat uneven, is a fine introduction to the short works of the author who wrote one of the great novels of the United States-- The Great Gatsby. In fact, several of the stories in this collection present an early development of themes the author explored to greater effect in that novel. The stories explore the loss of innocence and decadence of the time while also hinting at the impotence of men back from the horror of war. The stories also explore the changing relationships between men and women, the growing income gap, and the confusion that arose as the US became a world power and a modern culture. In short, to better understand life today, we can learn much from this book and others from the early 20th century.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    "Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and find that you have created—nothing. That is because we are all queer fish, queerer behind our faces and voices than we want any one to know or than we know ourselves. When I hear a man proclaiming himself an "average, honest, open fellow," I feel pretty sure that he has some definite and perhaps terrible abnormality which he has agreed to conceal—and his protestation of being average a "Begin with an individual, and before you know it you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and find that you have created—nothing. That is because we are all queer fish, queerer behind our faces and voices than we want any one to know or than we know ourselves. When I hear a man proclaiming himself an "average, honest, open fellow," I feel pretty sure that he has some definite and perhaps terrible abnormality which he has agreed to conceal—and his protestation of being average and honest and open is his way of reminding himself of his misprision."

  15. 4 out of 5

    pondie

    It’s kind of funny that I finished this book on my wedding anniversary. I read this book because my husband loves F Scott. And through him, I have learned a lot about this young author 😉. I have only read “The Great Gatsby” by F Scott, so I knew it was time to try something else. I haven’t read short stories in a long time, so it took me a while to get in the flow. But some lines were so beautiful and timeless. I’m glad I read these stories!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is a shame that such talented writer died so young. I liked “Babylon Revisited”, “The Ice Palace”, and “Crazy Sunday” the best. Fitzgerald’s short stories and novels give the reader inside views of the “lost generation” and Hollywood.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kellen Blair

    Who knew F. Scott Fitzgerald was such a good writer?? I guess everybody. This is a great collection of short stories! Always fun to watch drunk socialites enjoy New York City in the 20's -- and incredible how little some things have changed in the last 100 years. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz was also a favorite, though a major diversion from his usual style. Two big thumbs up all around! Who knew F. Scott Fitzgerald was such a good writer?? I guess everybody. This is a great collection of short stories! Always fun to watch drunk socialites enjoy New York City in the 20's -- and incredible how little some things have changed in the last 100 years. The Diamond as Big as the Ritz was also a favorite, though a major diversion from his usual style. Two big thumbs up all around!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mandi

    “The Ice Palace” was an interesting play on the cultural differences that once existed between the north and the south. Being in the DR in the Peace Corps while reading this, it made me think of how easily the story could be told between someone from the DR and an American. “May Day” was interesting to me because I have interest in understanding more about Socialism and how people felt about it in the US during that time, plus it gave Fitzgerald’s constant interest in writing about the ric “The Ice Palace” was an interesting play on the cultural differences that once existed between the north and the south. Being in the DR in the Peace Corps while reading this, it made me think of how easily the story could be told between someone from the DR and an American. “May Day” was interesting to me because I have interest in understanding more about Socialism and how people felt about it in the US during that time, plus it gave Fitzgerald’s constant interest in writing about the rich a political significance. Yet, all these different characters looped in and out of one another’s lives without making any impact, which was probably the point of the story, yet it was depressing. Human beings crave connection, so the absence of that must be why Fitzgerald has a suicide end the story. “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” shows again that Fitzgerald connects the rich with thoughtlessly killing people, even feeling entitled to. This rich family even keeps slaves. But what makes this story interesting is that there is a Sermon on the Mount where the head of the family actually comes up against God, offering God a bribe, expecting that God has a price that can be met. This is the most obvious a-religious imagery I have seen from Fitzgerald to depict the rich. “Winter Dreams” seems to be more about relationships with a little of the idea of the posh girl and the hard-working boy who made his own wealth. I enjoyed this one and from how it began, I didn’t expect that I would. The end escapes the fantasy the beginning seems to suggest and provides a very sad truth (for the cynics out there). “Absolution” is commentary on religion and how people need a little beauty and hope, not just fear, to propel them forward in live. “The Rich Boy” runs the course of his childhood to when he is 30, so it feels more like a small novel than a short story. This one is a return to the theme of the culture of the rich and the entitlement and pride surrounding those who are part of it, specifically seen through the lens of his relationships. “The Freshest Boy” is such a bittersweet story of an outcast who finally figures out how to make it. It has the painful line: It isn’t given to us to know those rare moments when people are wide open and the lightest touch can wither or heal. “Babylon Revisted” is so tragic and sad. It is the story of a man who is trying to make amends for his drunken days back in Paris during the boom. “Crazy Sunday” is about working in Hollywood as a writer. It is quite a different work schedule from the days in Paris, now everything is a frenzy of work until Sunday. This story is about a writer’s relationship with a director’s wife. “The Long Way Out” is a very sad story to end the collection with. It has the same bittersweet sadness of “Babylon Revisted” along with a similarity to the intense love between husband and wife that “Crazy Sunday” had.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Whiskey

    "Babylon Revisited" is the story of a father's attempt to regain the custody of his daughter after recovering from the death of his wife and his own battle with alcoholism. After having built a fortune in stock investments during the great bull market of the 1920s, American businessman Charlie Wales had quit his job and moved to Paris with his wife, Helen, to enjoy his newfound wealth. Friction within their marriage, his own weakness for alcohol, and the couple's wild lifestyle, however, led to "Babylon Revisited" is the story of a father's attempt to regain the custody of his daughter after recovering from the death of his wife and his own battle with alcoholism. After having built a fortune in stock investments during the great bull market of the 1920s, American businessman Charlie Wales had quit his job and moved to Paris with his wife, Helen, to enjoy his newfound wealth. Friction within their marriage, his own weakness for alcohol, and the couple's wild lifestyle, however, led to Helen's death and Charlie's admission to a sanitarium to recover from his alcohol dependence. During this time, the couple's young daughter was sent to live with Helen's sister and her husband in Paris. After Charlie was released from the sanitarium, he moved to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he re-established himself as a businessman. As the story begins, Charlie sits at his old haunt, the bar at the Ritz Hotel, asking the bartender, Alix, about the whereabouts of some of the people he knew when he was last in Paris a year and a half before. When Alix offers him a drink, Charlie declines, telling him "I'm going slow these days." Out on the Paris streets, Charlie passes places that remind him of his three pre-crash years in Paris and reflects on how his formerly debauched lifestyle has spoiled Paris for him. His cab ride takes him past such Paris landmarks as the Place de la Concorde, the river Seine, and the Left Bank. Charlie arrives at his brother-in-law's apartment and is greeted by his daughter, Honoria. He tells her guardians, Lincoln and Marion Peters, about his newfound success in Prague. When the conversation shifts, Charlie comments nostalgically on the days before the crash, when Paris was overrun by prosperous Americans like himself: "It was nice while it lasted. . . . We were a sort of royalty, almost infallible, with a sort of magic around us." During dinner he feels a great protectiveness toward Honoria, but having decided to let the Peters's bring up the subject of his regaining custody, he leaves for a late-night tour of Paris. The next day Charlie treats Honoria to lunch at a restaurant and offers to take her to a toy store and then the vaudeville. When Honoria tells Charlie she wants to come live with him, he puts her off in anticipation of his coming conversation with his in-laws about regaining custody of her. As they leave the restaurant, they run into two "ghosts out of the past," Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles. The two still-drunken old friends invite Charlie to join them for lunch, to dine with him later, and ask to accompany him and Honoria to the vaudeville. He evades all their invitations, and when Duncan asks for his address he stalls, telling Duncan he will call him later. Afterward, he views the encounter coolly: "They wanted to see him, because he was stronger than they were now, because they wanted to draw a certain sustenance from his strength." The next day Charlie returns to the Peters's to formally request custody of Honoria. Marion does not take kindly to the suggestion. She is still bitter about the death of her sister, which she blames on Charlie, and does not believe that he will remain sober for long. He admits that it is possible that he "might go wrong at any time." Charlie's strategy of assuming "the chastened attitude of the reformed sinner" pays off, and Marion eventually sees that Charlie is in control of his life again and resignedly leaves Charlie and Lincoln to make the final decision. As Charlie leaves, Lincoln assures him that Marion now has confidence that Charlie can provide a stable home for Honoria and will agree to his assuming custody of his daughter. That night Charlie is haunted by the memory of Helen, who appears to him in a white dress, sitting on a swing, assuring him that she is happy for him and wants Honoria to return to Prague with him. As he falls asleep, he imagines Helen swinging "faster and faster all the time," until he can no longer understand what she is saying. Charlie's fourth day in Paris begins with a phone call to Lincoln Peters to finalize his plans for taking Honoria back to Prague with him. Peters assures him that Honoria can return with him but informs him that Marion wants to retain legal guardianship over Honoria for one more year. Charlie agrees, and they arrange to "settle the details on the spot" later that evening. Back at his hotel, Charlie finds a note from Lorraine Quarrles forwarded from the Ritz bar in which she reminisces about some of his alcohol-inspired stunts two years before and invites him to meet her "for old time's sake" at the Ritz Hotel later that day. Charlie recoils in horror at the memory of the "utter irresponsibility" of his pre-crash Paris life and breathes a sigh of relief that Alix at the Ritz has not given her his hotel address. At five, Charlie heads for the Peters's apartment, where he finds that Marion has "accepted the inevitable." Suddenly, a drunken Duncan and Lorraine appear at the door to invite Charlie to dinner. Badly shaken, Marion Peters storms out of the room, and Lincoln tells Charlie that their dinner is off and to call him the next day at his office. Charlie heads for the Ritz bar hoping to confront Lorraine and Duncan about their drunken appearance at the Peters's. Not finding them, he orders a drink and is greeted by Paul, the head bartender who had presided over Charlie's pre-crash revelries at the Ritz. " I heard that you lost a lot in the crash," Paul inquires. "I did," Charlie answers, "but I lost everything I wanted in the boom." "Selling short?" Paul asks, and Charlie answers, "Something like that." He calls Lincoln Peters only to learn that Marion wants him to wait at least six months before they will consider the question of Honoria's custody again. Back in the Ritz bar, he declines the bartender's offer of another drink and resolves to send Honoria some presents the next day— lots of presents. "He would come back some day; they couldn't make him pay forever. . . . He was absolutely sure Helen wouldn't have wanted him to be so alone."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Naoms

    The writing is A plus and filled with the usual genius, but not even my beloved F. Scott Fitzgerald can make me love short stories. I always feel bereft, wanting more. Needing to know more about characters, story, details, etc. Just too short. I need fullsize novels, but I am glad I read this, I have some new favorite quotes. Like... Nothing affects them," he thought. "Stocks rise and fall, people loaf or work, but they go on forever. and... "I spoiled this city for myself. I didn't realize it, but The writing is A plus and filled with the usual genius, but not even my beloved F. Scott Fitzgerald can make me love short stories. I always feel bereft, wanting more. Needing to know more about characters, story, details, etc. Just too short. I need fullsize novels, but I am glad I read this, I have some new favorite quotes. Like... Nothing affects them," he thought. "Stocks rise and fall, people loaf or work, but they go on forever. and... "I spoiled this city for myself. I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Found a 1960 school-bound edition (stamped by Framingham High School, sorry Massachusetts) at Babbo's Books today. Actually, I cannot claim to have found it; the owner's mom Louise dug it up for me when I was looking for Gatsby. Well if you insist! We talked about how much we love the title story, and she said her most favorite was "The Rich Boy." Well, I will read it. Found a 1960 school-bound edition (stamped by Framingham High School, sorry Massachusetts) at Babbo's Books today. Actually, I cannot claim to have found it; the owner's mom Louise dug it up for me when I was looking for Gatsby. Well if you insist! We talked about how much we love the title story, and she said her most favorite was "The Rich Boy." Well, I will read it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    I always pull Fitzgerald or Hemingway off my bookshelf when I'm in between library books. Re-visiting the classics as an adult that I originally read as a teen is like discovering an entirely new story. We change, and evolve, our perspective is different. The depth of character that Fitzgerald can produce in just a small amount of pages has always impressed me, and, like Hemingway, his beautifully worded descriptions of time and place are what draw me in. I am a woman of detail, after all! I always pull Fitzgerald or Hemingway off my bookshelf when I'm in between library books. Re-visiting the classics as an adult that I originally read as a teen is like discovering an entirely new story. We change, and evolve, our perspective is different. The depth of character that Fitzgerald can produce in just a small amount of pages has always impressed me, and, like Hemingway, his beautifully worded descriptions of time and place are what draw me in. I am a woman of detail, after all!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I loved this book, it was wonderfully funny, gorgeous use of language, absolutely drenched in the period, so insightful of the human condition. I read it after I had seen the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. It is a book of short stories and to my shame I have never read any of Scott Fitzgerald's full length novels, but this experience has made me determine to. I loved this book, it was wonderfully funny, gorgeous use of language, absolutely drenched in the period, so insightful of the human condition. I read it after I had seen the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. It is a book of short stories and to my shame I have never read any of Scott Fitzgerald's full length novels, but this experience has made me determine to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    It's a shame that short fiction (and short nonfiction) aren't afforded more honor. Fitzgerald is stronger when he has less scope to flail around. His characterization and humor are more in evidence than his moody melancholy which suffuses the novels. It's a shame that short fiction (and short nonfiction) aren't afforded more honor. Fitzgerald is stronger when he has less scope to flail around. His characterization and humor are more in evidence than his moody melancholy which suffuses the novels.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    Every sentence is pure quality. Definitely worth reading, even if it's over a few years, one story at a time. Every sentence is pure quality. Definitely worth reading, even if it's over a few years, one story at a time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I like F Scott Fitzgerald quite a bit more than my high school self. Who knew?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Much as I love 'Gatsby', Fitzgerald's short stories (even the ones he wrote in a desperate cash grab) are his best works. He is an underrated master of short fiction. Much as I love 'Gatsby', Fitzgerald's short stories (even the ones he wrote in a desperate cash grab) are his best works. He is an underrated master of short fiction.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    Gets a five for the title story alone, my favorite thing Fitzgerald ever wrote.

  29. 5 out of 5

    1.1

    With just 10 short stories, this anthology spans F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and career. You catch glimmers of his response to the real world through it; from the heady days when the Jazz Age was getting underway, the roaring 20s, and the post-crash hangover. The predominant style is realism, touched with a certain sentimentality. Though their appeal may vary for different readers, each of these stories is remarkable in some way. Many gave me a glimpse of autobiographical portents, for example, or With just 10 short stories, this anthology spans F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and career. You catch glimmers of his response to the real world through it; from the heady days when the Jazz Age was getting underway, the roaring 20s, and the post-crash hangover. The predominant style is realism, touched with a certain sentimentality. Though their appeal may vary for different readers, each of these stories is remarkable in some way. Many gave me a glimpse of autobiographical portents, for example, or burning thematic concerns. They were all very much worth reading. How? Well, they’re worth summarizing: “The Ice Place’ (1920) is an interesting piece about a southern belle travelling north to be with her fiancé—it’s about the perfect length for what it aims for, and the setting is exquisitely told. The near-novella ‘May Day’ (1920) is a slice of life narrative about New York and the different people you might have found in it just after the war and just before the Jazz Age took off like a bottle rocket. It’s a good story with plenty of gristle, but difficult to finish in one sitting unless you’re in a reading mood. ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’ (1922) is a pure fantasy story that might be about hitting it big in the markets, or being a robber baron, or just about being so wealthy that you’re detached from even the life of the commonly wealthy. In any case, you can bet it’s packed with classic Fitzgerald Themes. ‘Winter Dreams’ (1922) is even more Classic Fitzgerald Themes. Disillusionment plays a main role and the characters are fairly well-drawn. I liked this one. It’s a bleak early spring day in short story form. Was Fitzgerald a Catholic? Absolutely not! He was a wasp, damnit. Still, in ’Absolution’ (1924) he explores the Church a little bit and abusive father/son relationships a lot—wait is that a parallel I detect? No? Ok, well I thought I did. ‘The Rich Boy’ (1926) is a character study that concerns itself with the idea of perpetual loss brought on by one’s own faults, and how one can be just barely consoled to it. Good stuff. ‘The Freshest Boy’ (1928) completes Scott’s Boy Duology with an even better character study that examines the outsider, resilience, disillusionment, and grit. Maybe one of the best pieces in the book. The title story, ‘Babylon Revisited’ (1931), is extremely piquant and of an almost ideal length. Hinting perfectly at dissipation, its main theme, this affective, regretful story follows a reformed American in Paris. ‘Crazy Sunday’ (1932) leaves Scott’s favourite setting, the East Coast, to follow Joel Cole (great name), a continuity writer in California dealing with an old flame, the boss who married her, his job, and the temptations of society, alcohol, and sex. ‘The Long Way Out’ (1937) is a sad story, and very short, about a wife in a sanitarium. Autobiographical much? I recommend you read it and find out for yourself. All told, these are 10 excellent short stories. You’d be tempted to say the back half is darker and more ambiguous than the front, but that’s not even really true. The main themes are money, alcohol, and society in roughly that order. In terms of setting, there’s a lot of boarding school stories (kinda reminded me of Owen Meany) and a heap of New York / Northeast America, as well as a surprising amount of Midwest meanderings. It’s very likely only some of the stories will resonate with you, but stick with this book. At least one of the stories will stick with you for a while, and they’re great period pieces, like faded photographs from a long-gone era, or some kind of crazy wallpaper that’s been painted over a hundred times. Not perfect, but definitely worth reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bill S.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well crafted story of a man who cannot entirely escape his past. He struck it big on the stock market which led to him and his wife coming to Paris to live a life of drinking, partying, and acting cruelly to one another. We meet him at the start of the story as an older man, his wife dead, and his daughter cared for by his sister-in-law who was made her legal guardian. He has returned to Paris as a new man to reclaim his daughter. He drinks only one drink per day and now earns more money than wh Well crafted story of a man who cannot entirely escape his past. He struck it big on the stock market which led to him and his wife coming to Paris to live a life of drinking, partying, and acting cruelly to one another. We meet him at the start of the story as an older man, his wife dead, and his daughter cared for by his sister-in-law who was made her legal guardian. He has returned to Paris as a new man to reclaim his daughter. He drinks only one drink per day and now earns more money than when he had money. But, as the story unfolds, his past comes back to haunt him. Old drunken friends show up unexpectedly on the very night he and his sister-in-law are to complete their agreement to have him take possession of his daughter, whom it is obvious he loves very much and wants to do more than just give money to support. This incident leads the sister-in-law to decide to not now give up the daughter and it seems that she may not in the future. Towards the conclusion a man says to the protagonist, "I heard that you lost a lot in the crash." He replies. "I did, but I lost everything I wanted in the boom." The story is particularly sad when one considers that Fitzgerald and his wife lived lives of hedonism in Paris and drink would one day do him in. This seems to be a story in which the author reveals regrets about his own life. What a great title. Babylon in the Bible is the city of blasphemy. When the man returns to Paris he finds it somewhat transformed. The Depression has chased most Americans away and it lacks the life of the 1920's. But still, like the main character, the reminders of the past blasphemies continue as he finds himself in the same bars and served by the same bartenders. Fitzgerald also did a fantastic job in having this story slowly reveal itself.

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