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Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (short story)

January 4, 2009

benjamin-button-short-story

After seeing the movie version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I decided to read the short story, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, that inspired it.  (I was able to download a copy of it for free here.)  I say inspired it because the short story and the movie are totally different.  I won’t compare them, though.  If you’d like a comparison, The Book Lady and Trish have both done a great job of that.

The short story of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is set in Baltimore in the mid to late 1800′s.  It opens with Roger Button rushing to the hospital because his first child has been born.  He gets there only to discover that his newborn is a seventy year old man, complete with a gray beard.  He can even talk.  Roger is horrified, but eventually accepts it and takes Benjamin home.  Embarrassed by Benjamin’s appearance, Roger has him shaved, dyes his hair and dresses him in specially made clothes that are appropriate for a youngster.  He also buys him baby toys and expects him to play with them.

Around the age of 12, Benjamin discovers that he is aging backwards.  At age 20 he goes to work in his father’s wholesale hardware company.  He meets and marries Hildegarde.  At first, he’s happy in the marriage, and they have a son, who is “normal.”  As Hildegarde ages and Benjamin grows younger, he becomes disenchanted. After some time in the military and at college, Benjamin and Hildegarde are living separately.  Benjamin spends his final years living with his son.

This short story is an interesting, enjoyable read.  Since it is short, there is little character development, but you do learn about Benjamin’s feelings.  I found it strange that his mother was rarely mentioned in the story.  It was first published in 1922.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2009 8:59 am

    Thanks for this. I was curious about the relationship between the book and the story. Interesting that the mother didn’t play a large role — that 1922 publishing date may have something to do with that. Don’t know, though.

  2. January 4, 2009 11:05 am

    Kathy – how did you like reading it online? I don’t know if I’d like that, so I’m seeking out a hardcopy (I know I can always print it, but I’m hoping to find it in a traditional book)

  3. January 4, 2009 11:34 am

    Nice review! I might read this before I see the movie.

  4. January 4, 2009 1:01 pm

    This is just a bizarre story! Thanks for posting the link to read it online. I may try and do that tomorrow when I get home with my son. I want to see the movie as I have heard good things about it but the make-up is just so creepy.

  5. January 4, 2009 2:34 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I needed a quick synopsis of the story so that I understood what all the “hype” was about. Yeah.. where is the mom?

  6. January 4, 2009 4:05 pm

    Loving your reviews! I have given you the Butterfly Award; see my post here.

  7. January 4, 2009 4:28 pm

    Thanks for reviewing this, and for including the link for the free copy. :-) Nice!

  8. January 4, 2009 5:49 pm

    Thanks for linking to my review! For S. Krishna–I think it works better to see the movie first because the story is so different that if you read it first, you’ll spend the whole movie thinking about all the disparities.

    I read the story online (while I was at work…naughty, I know), and while I wouldn’t want to do that for a full-length book, I thought it worked well for the short story. Also, I didn’t notice any mentions of Benjamin’s mother in the story, so I assumed she died in childbirth, like in the movie.

  9. stacybuckeye permalink
    January 4, 2009 5:53 pm

    Interesting. That was a great review. Now I don’t feel like I need to read it before I see the movie :)

  10. January 5, 2009 9:15 am

    I’m intrigued by this story. Thanks again for the link!

  11. January 5, 2009 11:55 am

    I gave you an award on my blog:

    http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com/2009/01/butterfly-award.html

  12. January 5, 2009 10:25 pm

    The thing that I regretted about this story in comparison with some of Fitzgerald’s other short stories was the lack of character development. Maybe because of the great span of time in the short story. Still can’t wait to see the movie, though!

  13. January 6, 2009 1:11 pm

    thanks for the “free” link — I’ve wanted to buy a copy, but have an aversion to books with movie tie-in covers or stickers all over them (“at a theater near you!”)
    Great blog, sorry I don’t have any awards to bestow…

  14. January 7, 2009 11:03 pm

    I agree with you that the short story and movie are very different!! I loved the movie and had the short story at home, but hadn’t read it yet before the movie. I have no read it and it is so different!

    Brad Pitt did a wondeful job!!

  15. reza permalink
    May 29, 2011 9:02 am

    Thanks. very good review and thank you so much about the link. i coud find no where.

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