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review 2017-01-23 16:45
Tales of the Jazz Age (Fitzgerald)
Tales of the Jazz Age - Francis Scott Fitzgerald

This is a collection of periodical fiction from fairly early in Fitzgerald's career, including some writing dating from his university days. Several of the shorter items are so negligible or obscure that I'm sure they were only included because they existed.

 

However, a few of the stories do stick in the mind. The opening tale, "The Jelly Bean", is a melancholic narrative of a layabout gambler's flirtation with a return to respectability and romantic love, only to be forestalled and defeated by respectable people with vices arguably worse than his own. I liked Fitzgerald's light touch and the absence of authorial commentary.

 

Two of the fantasies in the central section of the book stood out for me. About "Benjamin Button" I need say nothing, since it's so celebrated. "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" is a rather trenchant satire on the dire corruption that results from ridiculously excessive riches, and for those of us currently contemplating with horror the turpitude of a real-life billionaire, the apocalyptic ending is particularly satisfying.

 

I'm not sure why "Tarquin of Cheapside" gets so little love. Admittedly, as the author admits in his discursive table of contents, it's over-written in the manner of young author-students drunk on their discovery of capital-L Literature. But the not-terribly-surprising surprise disclosure at the end - that the rapist being sheltered by an enthusiast of literature is, in fact, William Shakespeare, author of The Rape of Lucrece - is bold, thought-provoking (how much criminality will we tolerate if it gives birth to great art?) and well-supported by lots of lovely little details in the body of the story. I particularly liked the fact that the Reader figure was buried in the Britomart (chastity) section of the The Faerie Queene when rapist-Shakespeare sought his sanctuary, given that Lucrece's primary characteristic is her celebrated chastity. I can forgive the terrible libel on Shakespeare's character for the sake of having this story!

 

Anyway, I am not so fond of Fitzgerald that I would normally have picked this up it it were not one of the many public domain orphans brought to us by Project Gutenberg and then Amazon's e-distribution system, but I enjoyed the serendipitous find.

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review 2016-10-03 14:28
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald,Matthew J. Bruccoli

Life has begun again as it got crisp in the fall (eventually) and I decided it was time to revisit Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, prompted by his 120th birthday and an event celebrating the occasion at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

 

I admit I sit comfortably in the choir who sing the praises of The Great Gatsby. Even in it's slight 160 pages, it has so much to offer, be it your first, third or 78th reading. It's length also makes it an easy one to revisit. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of books you haven't read — as I've written about previously — this is a novel you can revisit in just a couple days.

 

The Great Gatsby is a devastating piece of writing — in style and form and substance. Even as I have grown in age and through multiple readings to see the characters as peers, I still find myself torn up at the end of each chapter. The closer I have gotten in age, the more human and touchable the characters seem, and the story is even more powerful for it. When I was young, I looked at these doomed loves the same way I watched horror films, substituting, "Just say you love him!" for "He's right behind the door!" But with experience came understanding of how terrible we can be at making choices in love. Would you really trade your whole life — friends, house, city, job, etc. — to be with someone?

 

And as a writer, how could you not be put on your ass by Fitzgerald? Some part of every writer celebrates seeing a successful piece that seems obtainable, that makes us say, "I could do that." Seeing Greatness is humbling and inspiring and daunting and euphoric and many other things at once. Greatness, like love, is complicated.

 

If nothing else, take from this post the chance to reread The Great Gatsby, especially if you have not touched it since high school. You may be surprised to find an entirely different story than you remember, different than the movie, different than the play, Gatz. This was at least my third reading of the novel and it is something I intend to read every year or so, as the British comedian Stephen Fry does, both for everything new it has to offer and the beauty of the art itself that never seems to fadeEvery time you read Gatsby it shifts, subtly, like a kaleidoscope. The colors and shapes, the characters and scenes, are all there, but it is never the same novel twice.

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review 2016-05-09 21:14
Sugarland
Sugarland: A Jazz Age Mystery - Martha Conway

Eve Riser is a pianist on the jazz circuit in prohibition-era Illinois.  She is caught up in a violent crime while on the circuit.  Fearing  that she would be connected to the crime, Eva is sent to Chicago to work and stay with her step-sister, Chickie.  When she arrives Eva quickly finds herself in the middle of a drive by shooting of a bootlegger in which she is also shot.  Lena, the deceased bootlegger’s sister helps Eva recovery.  However, while she is recovering Chickie disappears and Eva discovers that the money she has been sent to Chicago with is missing. Lena and Eva go on a hunt of Chicago’s jazz clubs and speakeasies to try and find answers behind Lena’s brother’s death and try and find Chickie.

 

This is a historical mystery that throws you right into the action.  Within the first few pages a man is dead and Eva is sent on the run.  The danger quickly escalates as Eva, an African-American woman, navigates Chicago with a large amount of money.  Since there is so much action in the beginning, I didn’t really get to know Eva’s character all that well other than that she is a brilliant musician and pianist who cares deeply for he sister.  What I did get a wonderful sense of was the time period and music scene.  The rise of jazz, the overall feeling that the music gives you, the story it tells and the way it brings people together was really the forefront of the novel for me.  I loved the scenes in the jazz clubs where Eva or Lena was describing the music and the process of playing and writing.  I did feel like I could hear some of the songs myself.  Another aspect that was done well was the different racial relations of 1920’s Chicago.  Many of the jazz musicians are African American and rule the jazz club scene, but segregation is still very much a part of their world.  The friendship between Eva and Lena, a white nurse grows throughout the story as they navigate treacherous territory within the bootlegging world.  However, Eva’s race sometimes hinders their mission.  The mystery part of the novel, took a bit of a back seat for me, I did want to know why Lena’s brother was shot and how it connected to the death in the very beginning, but the setting and music stole the scene for me.

 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2016-05-05 06:55
A Fine Imitation
A Fine Imitation: A Novel - Amber Brock
ISBN: 9781101905111
Publisher: Crown 
Publication Date: 5/3/2016 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating:  4 Stars 


A special thank you to Crown, NetGalley (digital), and LibraryThing (print) for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Southern author, Amber Brock delivers A FINE IMITATION –an intriguing historical fiction debut of glamour, art, deception, secrets, scandal, friendship, romance, and desire.

The exciting Jazz Age, emphasizes the era’s social, artistic, and cultural dynamism—and a woman’s role in this changing time. Difficult choices.

The book opens in 1913 at Vassar College, a private, liberal arts college in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded as a women's college in 1861, became coeducational in 1969.

Two young women: Vera Longacre, senior meets Georgian scandalous Southern belle, Bea Stillman from Atlanta (formerly at Agnes Scott). Her family wanted her to benefit from society.

Friends they became. As long as they were friends, Vera did not have to worry about a lack of excitement. Bea was lively and exciting—she was incorrigible. Different social classes. However, Bea was a risk taker, and Vera played it safe, pressured by family. Bea offered freedom. And there was Cliff and Arthur. Bea had secrets.

Flashing back and forth, dual time periods and narratives:

New York City, 1923, swept away in the glamorous penthouse of the Angelus building. Vera Bellington, Manhattan socialite, has beauty, sophistication, pedigree, and wealth. Her husband ten years older, financially sound had built the building in 1919—the two dominated the society within the building.

She was bored with her husband (Arthur)’s late nights, trips away. There were so-called friends, charities, money; however, she was lonely and restless. She thinks of love, friendships, and regrets of the past.

Her mother always threw up her education at Vassar, in art history-- she needed to get some use out of her studies. A French dealer with an established gallery in Paris. Vera had agreed to see the painting for a mural for their building.

From Vassar College days to the sophistication of the twenties in New York. The young girls' plans were to marry rich and make Bea into a real New Yorker. Bea had artistic talent and passing grades. She liked to live on the wild side.

However, Bea did not feel the need to study or excel—after all she knew they would have lovely lunches in the city, dinner parties, and trips to the shore, households to manage. A rich man to carry the load. However, Bea had her secrets.Their girlish mistakes.

Today, Vera often wonders what Bea’s life had become. She had imagined her enjoying a glamorous nightlife, juggling suitors, dancing at clubs until the wee hours of the morning. She spots her at the gallery, a secretary?

After ten years of a loveless marriage, she knew Arthur’s late nights and trips to the office was not what it appeared. She was unhappy. The relationship with her overbearing mother had always been strained, pushing her to be a wife in high society. It was about making her mother happy, and everyone but herself. Even her parent's marriage had been more like a business partnership.

A mural project. Emil Hallan, a handsome sexy French artist. Currently in Paris and he was coming to the city. Maybe it would be someone she could actually carry on a conversion with. He was posh. Mysterious. Secretive. An attraction. An affair. A chance for romance. Enigmatic Pasts are slowly unraveled. Happiness or security?

An ongoing mystery surrounding Bea, keeping readers page-turning.

From the elegant roaring twenties, challenges of women of this period, a time of glamour, and sophistication, depicted with the stunning front cover, the allure, drawing you into the intrigue and mystery. The title has many meanings, very fitting—reaching for happiness, trying to fit into what they feel society warrants, social pressures, what is truth, and what is a lie---false or real- influences, art forgery, right or wrong.

A accurate depiction of the era. Is this glamorous and rebellious image of the flapper a true representation of the 1920s woman? The entrance of the free-spirited flapper, women began to take on a larger role in society and culture. However, in order to be a flapper, a woman had to have enough money and free time to play the part.

Despite increasing opportunities and education, marriage often remained the goal of most young women (or their mother’s goal). Society encouraged women to believe that their economic security and social status depended on a successful marriage. A changing time in women’s rights. Some brave enough to step out on their own. The “new woman” was on her way!

 


Infused with social influences, identity, and reinvention. Skillfully crafted, Brock makes her characters come alive on the page, with vivid settings---from the exciting art world, rich in history and charm. A nice contrast with two different personalities--Being true to oneself. A wonderful weekend escape- one of my favorite time periods.

For fans of Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Erika Robuck, Susan Meissner, and Kathleen Tessaro. Love the elegant cover. Have it on my desk to swoon over daily.

Excited to meet a new talented southern author, and voice from Atlanta. With the author’s background, a perfect story--cannot wait to see what’s next. Looking forward to listening to the audio, as well narrated by Julia Whelan.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!A-Fine-Imitation/cmoa/56f88a570cf2e3ce9bb0f998
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text 2016-05-03 23:55
Reading progress update: I've read 6%.
Sugarland: A Jazz Age Mystery - Martha Conway

I started The Girl From The Savoy last night, but received an email reminding me that Sugarland release date Is May 12. I said that I'd start it and if it captured me quickly I'd give it a go. Well, I will continue on with it and go back to TGFTS. So much has happened already!

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