Another Thursday, another review, but my brain won’t co-operate. Not because I don’t know what to review, but because I’m uninspired.
At the end of April, I posted Z is for Zelda which included the information that F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife was called Zelda. When I admitted that I’d never read any Fitzgerald, one well-read follower suggested The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as a great start to discovering him – thanks, Heather Erickson.
This review will be shorter as this is a short story.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Today, F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his novels, but in his lifetime, his fame stemmed from his prolific achievement as one of America’s most gifted story writers. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a witty and fantastical satire about ageing, is one of his most memorable stories.
In 1860 Benjamin Button is born an old man and mysteriously begins ageing backwards. At the beginning of his life he is withered and worn, but as he continues to grow younger he embraces life — he goes to war, runs a business, falls in love, has children, goes to college and prep school, and, as his mind begins to devolve, he attends kindergarten and eventually returns to the care of his nurse.
This strange and haunting story embodies the sharp social insight that has made Fitzgerald one of the great voices in the history of American literature.
Review 4.3 stars
This cleverly crafted short story was inspired by a remark of Mark Twain’s that, “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.”
Ageing backwards has its advantages, and Fitzgerald explores various elements of such a life, Benjamin Button’s, showing how the happiness is balanced with frustration and misunderstanding – disadvantages. He weaves humorous moments alongside poignant ones creating a satirical commentary on society’s response to growing up, ageing, appearances and abilities.
The language may feel dated, and the social standing of the Buttons may seem alien to many, yet the attitudes and expectations of people around Benjamin ring true today.
Have our attitudes really progressed? A quick but thought-inspiring read from a master craftsman.
Story – four stars
Setting/World-building – five stars
Authenticity – four stars
Characters – five stars
Structure – four stars
Readability – four stars
Editing – four stars