Much better than I expected, especially the story “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” which gave its title to this collection of short shories and contained the especially apt lines
Kismine sighed, gazing up at the stars … ‘I never noticed the stars before… They make me feel that it was all a dream, all my youth’ … ‘It was a dream’, said John quietly. ‘Everybody’s youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness’
One of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the definitive novel on the idle rich of the 1920s Jazz Age: The Great Gatsby, first published by Penguin in 1950. Here, his preoccupation with moneyed society takes on a fantastical form, in a playful yet sinister fairy-tale about a family so wealthy they are entirely above the law.
Extract from this book
When he had been in Montana for less than a month and things were going very poorly indeed, he stumbled on his great discovery. He had lost his way when riding in the hills, and after a day without food he began to grow hungry. As he was without his rifle, he was forced to pursue a squirrel, and in the course of the pursuit he noticed that it was carrying something shiny in its mouth. Just before it vanished into its hole – for Providence did not intend that this squirrel should alleviate his hunger – it dropped its burden. Sitting down to consider the situation Fitz-Norman’s eye was caught by a gleam in the grass beside him. In ten seconds he had completely lost his appetite and gained one hundred thousand dollars. The squirrel which had refused with annoying persistence to become food, had made him a present of a large and perfect diamond.
Late that night he found his way to camp and twelve hours later all the males among his darkies were back by the squirrel hole digging furiously at the side of the mountain. He told them he had discovered a rhinestone mine, and, as only one or two of them had ever seen even a small diamond before, they believed him without question. When the magnitude of his discovery became apparent to him, he found himself in a quandary. The mountain was a diamond – it was literally nothing else but solid diamond. He filled four saddle bags full of glittering samples and started on horseback for St Paul. There he managed to dispose of half a dozen small stones – when he tried a larger one a storekeeper fainted and Fitz-Norman was arrested as a public disturber. He escaped from jail and caught the train for New York, where he sold a few medium-sized diamonds and received in exchange about two hundred thousand dollars in gold. But he did not dare to produce any exceptional gems – in fact, he left New York just in time.