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Table of Contents



This is a Southern story, with the scene laid in the small Lily of
Tarleton, Georgia. I have a profound affection for Tarleton, but
somehow whenever I write a story about it I receive letters from all
over the South denouncing me in no uncertain terms. "The Jelly-Bean,"
published in "The Metropolitan," drew its full share of these
admonitory notes.

It was written under strange circumstances shortly after my first
novel was published, and, moreover, it was the first story in which I
had a collaborator. For, finding that I was unable to manage the
crap-shooting episode, I turned it over to my wife, who, as a Southern
girl, was presumably an expert on the technique and terminology of
that great sectional pastime.


I suppose that of all the stories I have ever written this one cost me
the least travail and perhaps gave me the most amusement. As to the
labor involved, it was written during one day in the city of New
Orleans, with the express purpose of buying a platinum and diamond
wrist watch which cost six hundred dollars. I began it at seven in the
morning and finished it at two o'clock the same night. It was
published in the "Saturday Evening Post" in 1920, and later included
in the O. Henry Memorial Collection for the same year. I like it least
of all the stories in this volume.

My amusement was derived from the fact that the camel part of the
story is literally true; in fact, I have a standing engagement with
the gentleman involved to attend the next fancy-dress party to which
we are mutually invited, attired as the latter part of the camel--this
as a sort of atonement for being his historian.


This somewhat unpleasant tale, published as a novelette in the "Smart
Set" in July, 1920, relates a series of events which took place in the
spring of the previous year. Each of the three events made a great
impression upon me. In life they were unrelated, except by the general
hysteria of that spring which inaugurated the Age of Jazz, but in my
story I have tried, unsuccessfully I fear, to weave them into a
pattern--a pattern which would give the effect of those months in New
York as they appeared to at least one member of what was then the
younger generation.


"And do you write for any other magazines?" inquired the young lady.

"Oh, yes," I assured her. "I've had some stories and plays in the
'Smart Set,' for instance------"

The young lady shivered.

"The 'Smart Set'!" she exclaimed. "How can you? Why, they publish
stuff about girls in blue bathtubs, and silly things like that"

And I had the magnificent joy of telling her that she was referring to
"Porcelain and Pink," which had appeared there several months before.



These next stories are written in what, were I of imposing stature, I
should call my "second manner." "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,"
which appeared last summer in the "Smart Set," was designed utterly
for my own amusement. I was in that familiar mood characterized by a
perfect craving for luxury, and the story began as an attempt to feed
that craving on imaginary foods.

One well-known critic has been pleased to like this extravaganza
better than anything I have written. Personally I prefer "The Offshore
Pirate." But, to tamper slightly with Lincoln: If you like this sort
of thing, this, possibly, is the sort of thing you'll like.


This story was inspired by a remark of Mark Twain's to the effect that
it was a pity that the best part of life came at the beginning and the
worst part at the end. By trying the experiment upon only one man in a
perfectly normal world I have scarcely given his idea a fair trial.
Several weeks after completing it, I discovered an almost identical
plot in Samuel Butler's "Note-books."

The story was published in "Collier's" last summer and provoked this
startling letter from an anonymous admirer in Cincinnati:


I have read the story Benjamin Button in Colliers and I wish to say
that as a short story writer you would make a good lunatic I have seen
many peices of cheese in my life but of all the peices of cheese I
have ever seen you are the biggest peice. I hate to waste a peice of
stationary on you but I will."


Written almost six years ago, this story is a product of undergraduate
days at Princeton. Considerably revised, it was published in the
"Smart Set" in 1921. At the time of its conception I had but one
idea--to be a poet--and the fact that I was interested in the ring of
every phrase, that I dreaded the obvious in prose if not in plot,
shows throughout. Probably the peculiar affection I feel for it
depends more upon its age than upon any intrinsic merit.


When this was written I had just completed the first draft of my
second novel, and a natural reaction made me revel in a story wherein
none of the characters need be taken seriously. And I'm afraid that I
was somewhat carried away by the feeling that there was no ordered
scheme to which I must conform. After due consideration, however, I
have decided to let it stand as it is, although the reader may find
himself somewhat puzzled at the time element. I had best say that
however the years may have dealt with Merlin Grainger, I myself was
thinking always in the present. It was published in the



Of this story I can say that it came to me in an irresistible form,
crying to be written. It will be accused perhaps of being a mere piece
of sentimentality, but, as I saw it, it was a great deal more. If,
therefore, it lacks the ring of sincerity, or even, of tragedy, the
fault rests not with the theme but with my handling of it.

It appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," and later obtained, I believe,
the quadruple gold laurel leaf or some such encomium from one of the
anthologists who at present swarm among us. The gentleman I refer to
runs as a rule to stark melodramas with a volcano or the ghost of John
Paul Jones in the role of Nemesis, melodramas carefully disguised by
early paragraphs in Jamesian manner which hint dark and subtle
complexities to follow. On this order:

"The case of Shaw McPhee, curiously enough, had no hearing on the
almost incredible attitude of Martin Sulo. This is parenthetical and,
to at least three observers, whose names for the present I must
conceal, it seems improbable, etc., etc., etc.," until the poor rat of
fiction is at last forced out into the open and the melodrama begins.


This has the distinction of being the only magazine piece ever written
in a New York hotel. The business was done in a bedroom in the
Knickerbocker, and shortly afterward that memorable hostelry closed
its doors forever.

When a fitting period of mourning had elapsed it was published in the
"Smart Set."


Written, like "Tarquin of Cheapside," while I was at Princeton, this
sketch was published years later in "Vanity Fair." For its technique I
must apologize to Mr. Stephen Leacock.

I have laughed over it a great deal, especially when I first wrote it,
but I can laugh over it no longer. Still, as other people tell me it
is amusing, I include it here. It seems to me worth preserving a few
years--at least until the ennui of changing fashions suppresses me, my
books, and it together.

With due apologies for this impossible Table of Contents, I tender
these tales of the Jazz Age into the hands of those who read as they
run and run as they read.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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