Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A Review of 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In 1860 Benjamin button is born an old man and mysteriously being aging backward. At the beginning of his life he is withered and worn, but as he continues to grow younger he embraces life-- he goes to war, runs a business, falls in love, has children, goes to college and prep school, and, as his mind begins to devolve, he attends kindergarten and eventually returns to the care of his nurse.
This strange and haunting story embodies the sharp social insight that has made Fitzgerald one of the great voices in the history of American literature."
This book just got sadder and sadder as I read through it. Since it's only a fifty-two page book, that's a lot of sad in a short amount of time. I watched the film version of Benjamin Button prior to reading this and though I watched it a while ago, I still don't remember there being this much downtrodden-ness. I suppose that I should get to the actual review. I'll start with the things that bothered me so that we can end on a positive note.
One thing that really bothered me was how harsh everyone was with each other. Right away in the book, upon Benjamin's birth, he's not that well-liked because he's old and sassy-- everything that a newborn ought not to be. His father is just rough with him from the get-go over something that neither he nor Benjamin has any control over: how Benjamin was born. Later in the book, after Benjamin has gotten younger, he meets and marries his wife, which is great. But once she gets older and Benjamin continues to age backwards, he fails to remain attracted to her and he essentially throws her aside. That is maddening to me. I can only imagine what Benjamin's wife, Hildegarde, is thinking and feeling as Benjamin stops caring about her and goes off to water and later to join the Yale football team. He even has a son! How does he just go off and do these things? If I were Hildegarde, I'd just be peeved. But probably something stronger.
When Benjamin becomes too young to take care of himself, he moves in with his son, Roscoe, who is also very rough with him. The story comes full circle as Roscoe angrily implores why his father doesn't stop pretending. I wanted to slap Roscoe. You'd think that after spending any amount of time with his father, he'd realize that he's not making this way of being up. What a stupid git...
This book was also sad because it made me realize how similar birth and death is and how life is so circular. One day you're not there then suddenly you're in existence. When you die, you're there, then you're not. You're so helpless at the beginning and end of your life. You need to be taken care of, whether you like it or not. I can imagine that when you're at an old age and you suddenly need to be taken care of like a child again that this is very frustrating. Especially after you're so used to taking care of yourself.
I hope that I don't grow that old...
Overall, this book was terribly depressing and aggravating, but it still managed to evoke a reaction out of me, so that must mean that something was working for me on some level.
I give 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button':