While I enjoyed these stories, they don't come close, in quality, to much of Fitzgerald's earlier work. While some of these stories are funny, and while some possess excellent sentences and great, interesting images, none of them shine like "The Great Gatsby" or "The Diamond As Big As The Ritz." When I first finished this book, I found it hard to imagine that the same man who wrote "Gatsby" also wrote this collection of humorous stories about a truly pitiful Hollywood writer.
Prompted by my new fascination with Fitzgerald, I read Turnbull's biography of Fitzgerald title Scott Fitzgerald, and it was excellent. And now, in light of this biography and my experiences reading Fitzgerald, I'm convinced that this book helps to illustrate Fitzgerald's tremendous, personal transformation. In between Gatsby and Pat Hobby, Fitzgerald's life fell apart. His wife had experienced breakdowns and needed psychiatric care, and Fitzgerald himself was destroyed by alcoholism. His personal life fell apart, and he even tried to commit suicide. Fitzgerald, himself, frequently spoke and wrote about his "crack up." And this book, "The Pat Hobby Stories," reads as if it were written by a literary genius whose world had broken apart.
Further, this book seems to be reflective of Fitzgerald's personal life and feelings. Around the time he wrote it, he was working at Hollywood, where he kept getting shifted from script to script. He was discontent, saying: "It's so barren out here. I don't feel anything out here," (Turnbull 1962, 293), and he described Hollywood as "a dump . . . A hideous town, pointed up by the insulting gardens of its rich, full of the human spirit at a new low of debasement" (Turnbull 1962, 317). This book, "The Pat Hobby Stories," which focuses on the silliness and pathetic-ness of Pat Hobby and his embarrassing adventures in Hollywood, probably captures at least a part of Fitzgerald's feelings for himself and the environment in which he lived.
Ultimately, if you find Fitzgerald interesting, then I recommend reading this book - because it really says something about him. But if you just want to read a great book, I recommend you look elsewhere.
Two final, fun notes. First, Fitzgerald once wrote that Hollywood was "a strange conglomeration of a few excellent overtired men making pictures and as dismal a crowd of fakes and hacks at the bottom as you can imagine" (Turnbull 1962, 293). This is a neat quote, when seen in relation to Fitzgerald's fictional creation - Pat Hobby, the dismal hack. Second, Turnbull includes two descriptive sentences which relate, amusingly, to one of the Hobby stories: "At the same time [Fitzgerald] was trying to make gin a substitute for energy, and each week his secretary collected the bottles and disposed of them lest they be noticed in the rubbish" (Turnbull 1962, 298). After reading this book, you might see why this is interesting.