Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, or the "Jazz Age" as dubbed by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the most important writers to chronicle this special era through his novels and short stories. In this collection are six of Fitzgerald's better known satires, originally published in two other collections, Flappers and Philosophers in 1920, and Tales of the Jazz Age in 1922. And while they are certainly humorous, mocking the corruption and distorted morality that defined this era, do not think these are simply "fun" stories. Uncomfortable might be a better word, ranging from dark humor to downright macabre.
Bernice Bobs Her Hair is about the pretentiousness of being a popular young lady. Bernice is visiting her cousin Marjorie for the summer, but she is a drag because she doesn't know how to attract the boys at a dance, she's dull and boring, and doesn't dress right. She is a burden on Marjorie, who finally tells Bernice she will teach her how to behave, provided she follows her directions exactly. But things backfire when Marjorie's instructions actually work, and her number one beau becomes attracted to Bernice. This is one of those stories where you can't really sympathize with either side because both ladies behave so badly!!
The Offshore Pirate is about a wealthy, snotty, snobby, bitchy nineteen-year-old named Ardita, who is on a
yacht with her wealthy uncle, only agreeing because she expected to go ashore to Palm Beach to marry a man who promised her a diamond bracelet supposedly
belonging to the Czar of Russia. This man, in a straying moment had given it to a redhead named Mimi, but supposedly that is over and the bracelet has been
returned. Supposedly. She hates her aunt and uncle, the Farnams but has no other family. Mr. Farnam wants her to come ashore with him to a party this
evening because his friend has a son, Toby whom he wants her to meet. Ardita throws a lemon at him and tells him to get lost.
Not long after Mr. Farnam heads ashore, Ardita hears the glorious sound of singing, and soon sees a rowboat carrying six Negroes and a White Guy, who come aboard and say they are hijacking the yacht as a getaway because they have stolen bagsful of money. However, they are complete gentlemen, and offer to let Ardita go ashore. She' s in the mood for some excitement, so she opts to go along, plus she's interested in the White Guy, who calls himself Curtis Carlyle. They sail to a beautiful island with a hidden entrance among the cliffs, and Curtis tells Ardita his story: He and the Negroes were a singing sensation, Curtis Carlyle and his Six Black Buddies, and were very wealthy and successful, but Curtis got bored with it all because it wasn't getting him where he wanted to go. Now, his goal is to get to India, and become a rajah. Soon Ardita and Curtis fall in love, and she considers going with him, but it doesn't matter, because the revenue boat is spotted and it is coming right toward the island. Curtis knows he must turn himself in. But does he?. . . This one is probably the funniest story of the six in this collection, and I'll bet you can guess how it all ends!
The Ice Palace, Sally Carrol Happer is bored with her life in Georgia. Not that she doesn't love it there, and she certainly loves her friends, but she yearns to have more in her life than this slow southern town can offer. Soon her friend hear through the local gossip that she is engaged to a Yankee, Harry Bellamy, whom she goes to visit in the midst of winter. The cold and snow are scary to her, but the attitude of the people she finds even colder than the climate. She tries to convince herself that she will love her new home, and a wedding date is set for March. But when a group of friends go to visit the Ice Palace, something terrible happens.
The Diamond as Big as the Ritz is a purely fantastical tale about John Unger, from Hades (on the Mississippi) who goes to a prep school near Boston and meets a wealthy and reclusive boy named Percy Washington. Percy invites John to his home in Montana for the summer, and on the way, he becomes much more talkative, mostly about how wealthy his family is. Though John may not have believed it at first, when they arrive at the Washington's chateau, John knows it is true beyond his wild imaginations. At first he is in bliss, but the more he learns about the Washingtons, the more uncomfortable he becomes, until Percy's sister unexpectedly blurts out the horrible truth. This is one of the most macabre and bizarre tales of greed and excess you will ever read!
In The Jelly-Bean, we return to Tarleton, Georgia, and Sally Carrol Happer and her friends. This time, the main character is an idle loser named Jim Powell, who gets invited to a party and learns things about people he probably would rather not have known.
May Day is a hodge-podge story about many people and events taking place around a May Day celebration in New York
City. Of all the stories in this collection, this one paints the most vivid picture of decadence, drunkenness, and the seedy side of this era, juxtaposing
the wealthy upper class, the poor, soldiers returned from war, and everyday citizens. There are not many characters in this one that are even remotely
likable. No matter what their social standing, education, or background, most of these people behave despicably, selfishly, immorally, and heartlessly. Yet,
something whispers that this is truly the way it was in this era. It is good that we moved on. . .
Here are some YouTubes for you to enjoy!
The Melody Sheiks-Five Foot Two Eyes Of Blue, 1925
Flappers-The Roaring Twenties
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