(P)1999 by Blackston Audiobooks
This is a really good collection of Fitzgerald shorts. These give you a great snapshot of life in the early 20th century, and how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. A great companion to the Great Gatsby.
The reader tends to get a little melodramatic, but for the most part does an excellent job.
While a few of Scott Fitzgerald's early stories are included, his more mature and best short stories were written later. Like his (sometimes) friend, Ernest Hemingway, he was a master at both the long prose form of the novel and also the short story. On the whole many of the stories herein are a bit shallow and similar to the still inexperienced Fitzgerald which wrote This Side of Paradise, not exactly a monument to English literature. I notice another reviewer finds them entertaining. Perhaps when a later collection is one day issued which has the better stories, likely in two parts, the listener will have the opportunity to see Fitzgerald at his best in this genre. For light reading or the curious about the post WWI expatriots (first in American and then on to France) this may be entertaining. I tried listening to them several times and eventually gave it up. Should have known better. I didn't like them in written form and the narrator (not too bad) can breath life into what didn't exist in the first place. Would rate this 2 stars rather than 3 other than the pure entertainment value SOME (not all) may find in getting a (weak) taste of one of the best prose writers in the English language in the 20th century. If you happen to like them come back and give me a thumbs down. If you're not all that impressed, don't blame me. ;) Buy the recording of Gatsby (preferably) or Beautiful and the Damned and you'll get a better taste of what kind of writer Fitzgerald was. Just don't forget to read the books. Decent literature, unlike the 20 best sellers on the NYT list are not something to be experienced merely by listening to them on your iPod.
These stories do not represent Fitzgerald at his best or most mature, but they are certainly worth reading (hearing) once or twice. The reader deserves a lot of credit for his heroic effort in making these stories come alive. He conjures up a unique voice for each character in a given story, with each voice capturing the personality of that character perfectly. He put some real thought and effort into this, and his virtuosity was a pleasant surprise for me, if a bit over the top at times. I certainly could not say that he "phoned in" his narration, unless I were discussing the recorded sound itself. The distant, hollow, compressed audio quality literally sounds like something that was recorded over the phone onto an answering machine. It's awful compared to most other audiobooks I've heard, and frankly not acceptable. It really tainted my enjoyment of an otherwise impressive audiobook, and for that reason alone, I can only give this title 3 stars.
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