4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Pouring over my shelves and piles of books, I found this little tale hidden between two big monster size books I haven’t read yet.  Actually I had totally forgotten about it.  I bought it a while back at a book sale in Paris for 1€.  I love a good book deal.  I enjoyed reading F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school and at university.  It’s funny this book was never proposed on any of my reading lists at university.  As a matter of fact, The Great Gatsby found its way on my book club list last year.  Everyone questioned what was so special about Fitzgerald’s style of writing.  I love the way he puts words together,especially in The Great Gatsby.  I didn’t think I would enjoy reading it a third time but I did immensely.  He gives images and ideas in his own way, but a clear way.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is only 52 pages – a really quick read!  As I was reading I had the impression that this tiny book should have been much longer.  It seemed to be an idea he didn’t know how to develop because of its fantasy theme.  I thought the idea of a baby born old who progressively gets younger an interesting idea for a novel.  Unfortunately, I felt it was too short.  However, the basic plot is exclusively the story of Benjamin Button’s lifetime linked together with carefully chosen anecdotes.  This is not a typical plot line. So, don’t read it expecting something to happen or a climax.  Each anecdote deals with a specific idea about age and reflecting society’s current attitude toward age and aging.

Age is such an ongoing subject even today in the 21st century where we live to ripe old ages of 90 and above and where fifty and sixty somethings don’t necessarily look their ages. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Fitzgerald builds a fantastical and dreamlike world through the style and tone of his writing.  Each section seems to begin as if it’s a new story but in fact marks Benjamin becoming younger, a new experience each time.  In essence Benjamin’s life is not any easier in reverse.  He has the same difficulties as when you age – when you’re older people think you’re wise, admire you, and are even repulsed by you and when you’re younger you’re not taken seriously enough and people are often jealous if you’re middle-aged and  look younger.  Not to mention, all the while he’s becoming younger than all of his family members as the story unfolds.

I’m not so sure about recommending this book because it left me with gaps – I wanted more but it was too short to deliver.  I’m not sure how they made a two-hour movie out of this tale without adding some things that weren’t actually in the book.  I’m assuming that because I didn’t see the movie.  I guess reading it won’t take up too much of your time so why not give it a go.  You might enjoy it more than me.

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