With all the movie hype, I actually resisted reading this one. Until today. Today one of my AP seniors had a copy of this book I just couldn’t resist. Check out the illustrations:
The basis of this short story is about a man, Benjamin Button, who lives his life backwards. Born an old man, at least seventy years old, Benjamin ages in reverse, eventually ending with Benjamin as an infant. From the very first sentence, I was reminded that I was reading Fitzgerald. He has a way of telling a story that I can only describe as Fitzgerald-esque. His writing is straightforward and seems almost devoid of emotion, leaving it up to the reader to feel the story, to connect to the universality of its themes. So, what is this story about? Its about love, the passing of time and how we live our life:
“The past- the wild charge at the head of his men up San Juan Hill; the first years of his marriage when he worked late into the summer dusk down in the busy city for young Hildegarde whom he loved; the days before that when he sat smoking far into the night in the gloomy old Button house on Monroe Street with his grandfather- all those had faded like unsubstantial dreams from his mind as though they had never been.”
One of my readers commented that she found there were too many fantasy/logical issues with this book. While I do see her point, (logistically the whole story could never happen, a woman giving birth to a seventy year old man who ages in reverse), isn’t that what we call poetic license? I really enjoyed this story. I loved the fact that when Benjamin was a kid (or actually a seventy year old man, but in the first years of his life) he did kid-like things just to please his father. He smashed windows with a baseball, he played the silly games that young boys play, all the while sneaking cigars and hanging out with his grandfather. I would have to say there was some real humor in these parts, the whole image of this old man posing as a young boy cracks me up. It had a fairy-tale quality to it that I really enjoyed.