The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Timed, no doubt, to the release of the upcoming feature film, Penguin Classics has reissued its collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age Stories as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The titular tale, an absurdist parable of a man who is born in old age and regresses to childhood over the course of 70 years, is just one among the 19 stories gathered here, the full roster of Fitzgerald's first two collections. In a way, Fitzgerald's early stories are a training ground for the author we've come to know, full of his habitual wit but with more whimsy than usual. In such stories as "The Camel's Back," about a man disguised as a camel at a costume party who tricks his noncommittal lover into marrying him, and the classic "Diamond as Big as the Ritz," we catch a glimpse of the decadent exuberance of post-WWI America, unconstrained by the trifling boundaries of realism. Still, these stories are, for the most part, hardly without Fitzgerald's melancholy touch -- the novelette "May Day," in particular, is a somber indictment of the ravages of the Jazz Age and the aftermath of war upon a set of young men and women whose lives intersect one fateful night in New York. Fitzgerald's more ambitious stories, "May Day" among them, outclass some of the collection's more lighthearted efforts: "Head and Shoulders," in the O. Henry–esque orthodoxy of its structure, would seem the work of a less than mature creator. But then, that is one of the great pleasures of this collection -- the chance to see one of America's most iconic authors in the throes of his literary evolution.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.