Straight away, the opening page of The Rich Boy is classic Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is famous for his flappers and his obsession with the Rich. The Rich Boy is his story about the rich (duh). It is where you find his famous line
"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me..." But forget about the Hemingway punch line and continue to read..."They posses and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are....Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
Yes, The Rich Boy is the story where Fitzgerald puts it out there, the story of the youthful rich boys he pressed his nose up against.
This story is filed with lines and quotes that struck me. Some as simple as..."Most of our lives end as a compromise" or "The words wrung her heart like hands" and "Life, has made a cynic of me". The simple combination of words are able to evokes such strong images or feelings.
But, to me, it is some of the longer passages that speak personally to me. Especially when he is talking about Dolly. "Since she was ten she had always been in love, and usually, with some boy who didn't respond to her. Those who did- and there were many-bored her after a brief encounter, but for her failures she reserved the warmest spot in her heart,"..."It never occurred to this gypsy of the unattainable that there was a certain resemblance in those who refused to love her-they shared a hard intuition that saw through to here weakness..." That was me. I could go into the this and thats and defend myself, but in the end. I was Dolly Karger. Passages like this, that speak directly to my experience is what makes him my author. I am constantly amazed at how he creates connections to my life across time, space and gender.
And it doesn't stop there. Oh no, how about "They dropped out of the world for a while and made another just beneath it"? Makes me want to drop out of the world as well, or at least go back to the world I created when I dropped out with the boy who stole my heart.
Just one more..."Her dedication to the Goddess of waste would have been less obvious had she been less spirited- she would most certainly throw herself away..." Nummy.
The Rich Boy, like May Day is somewhere between a short story and a novella (does that make it a novelette?). I would have liked to see The Rich Boy developed further and made into a full novel. As I read it, it just feels like it should have been longer.
What do you think? Have you read The Rich Boy and if so is it one of your favorites as well?
"I don't think he was ever happy unless someone was in love with him, responding to him like filings to a magnet, helping him explain himself, promising him something. What it was I did not know. Perhaps they promised that there would always be women in the world who would spend their brightest, freshest, rarest hours to nurse and protect that superiority he cherished in his heart."
Here is a little bonus. In the story The Rich Boy, there is a passage where young people are singing in the corners...
The Rose of Washington Square