Monday, November 2, 2009

Short Story Monday/An Alcoholic Case by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The first Monday each month is the day I devote to a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This month's entry is called An Alcoholic Case, a late story of only seven pages.

I am constantly amazed at how quickly and how deeply I get into a short story. There is a concentration that is very different from reading a book. From the first words, I am completely focused on the story.

This could as easily have been called, 'A Sad Case,' for it truly is. The gist is that a nurse is taking care of an alcoholic. She really doesn't like to handle cases such as this, but:

She was going to take care of him because nobody else would, and because the best people of her profession had been interested in taking care of the cases that nobody else wanted.

The story makes me sad for all alcoholics, but especially for Fitzgerald. It was written just three years before he died. Compare this photo:

with the one I used for October's short story. He is an old man at forty-one years old. To think of him seeing himself with such clarity, such truth is just heartbreaking. Many people are able to delude themselves, but in this story we see the writer really knows what is going on.

He signaled to her, in one second, his Will to Die.

He was looking at the corner where he had thrown the bottle the night before. She stared at his handsome face, weak and defiant - afraid to turn even half-way because she knew that death was in that corner where he was looking. ... she knew this man saw it in the corner of the bathroom; that it was standing there looking at him while he spit from a feeble cough and rubbed the result into the braid of his trousers.

An Alcoholic Case is in my book, The Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald published by Scriber, but I found it online, if you would like to read this sad, yet excellent story. Oh, how I love his writing.

You may visit The Book Mine Set to read other reviews of short stories this Monday.


  1. so sad - my Dad was an alcoholic and died from the complications that go with that

    a week or so ago you wrote about another Fitzgerald short story, so I went off to the library and picked it up - my, it's very large and heavy - I've read a few of the stories and look forward to more - just noticed in the ToC that there's one entitled Winter Dreams - since writing my own 'winter' entries, this might be the next one for me

  2. I know I read short stories differently than novels. I have to pay attention to every word right from the start, and don't read them in the evening when I'm tired. Thanks for including the link - will print it out to read later.

  3. I've never read anything by F. Scott but I thank you for the link so that I can read this story that you highlighted today.

  4. It sounds ilke it has potential to be a tear jerker.

  5. Janice, I am so sorry. Mine was too, but had quit two years before I was born. Still, he died at 61. My Scribner collection has Winter Dreams, and I thought yesterday that I might read it the first Monday in January. It will be fun to compare notes.

    JoAnn, I always read mine in the afternoon, too! I so enjoy this weekly event - I've always loved short stories, but this reminds me to actually read one each week (usually).

    Staci, it doesn't take very long, yet the story is one that stays with the reader.

    John, not really a tear-jerker, but definitely sad, and so true for many people including the author.

  6. Wonderful of you to bring new readers to short fiction--and Scott Fitzgerald too! I think I'll read this one online. It does seem heavy, but a real writing lesson.


I'll answer your comments as soon as I possibly can. Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.