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Joseph Raffetto
Kristin B. and Other Stories

Kristin B. and Other Stories is a collection of three novellas by Joseph Raffetto. The new work includes Young Scott and Zelda, the remarkable tale of Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre's early love; Three A.M. delves into the ominous and tragic side of Scott and Zelda's love and marriage; and Kristin B., a dark, psychological thriller and romance.


Twenty‑one-year-old F. Scott Fitzgerald was a pretty boy, a drinker, remarkably outgoing for one so sensitive and, of course, gifted. It was during this period in his life that he fell madly in love with the beautiful, eccentric, and talented eighteen-year-old Southern belle, Zelda Sayre. This is the historic story of their early romance.


After Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s remarkable early romance came financial excess, sexual problems, Scott’s alcoholism, Hemingway, Gatsby, Zelda’s illness, Hollywood, and the undercurrent of loss and love that marked their later lives. This is a look back at the dark side of paradise.


Kristin Boyd returns home to try to recover. She is soon drawn to Holden Helms, a former professional baseball star, who destroyed his career because of his own demons. They must come to terms with their pasts through forgive- ness, reconciliation, and revenge. Only then will there be, for better or for worse, epiphany.

Raffetto’s short fiction, which often incorporates biography, cultural history, and first-person commentary, coalesces into twin portraits of fatalistic romance in the three novellas collected in Kristin B. and Other Stories. The first two entries, chronicling the tempestuous relationship of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre, are marvels of literary reconsideration, but it’s Raffetto’s fictional characters, the traumatized Kristin and violent Holden, who find redemption. Loners who’ve retreated to their sleepy hometown after dreams of a bigger life imploded, they explore the darkness of noir before emerging into the light.

The danger of becoming infatuated with the doomed Fitzgeralds is the desire to rewrite their tragic trajectories (alcoholism and mental illness). “Young Scott & Zelda” offers a pithy distillation of the epochal couple’s courtship, with brisk dialogue that captures the dynamics of a determined pursuer and his skittish quarry. Raffetto views them as combustible collaborators who created exquisite art, especially The Great Gatsby. But “3 a.m.” reads like a mea culpa for relishing their aura of beautiful possibility while downplaying the manipulative undercurrents of their warring personalities. When Zelda accuses Scott of mining her life for material, he calmly replies: “Everything we do is mine.” It’s a chilling summation of a shift in power after the dual bondage of marriage and fame.

After asserting that the women’s movement would have expanded Zelda’s options, Raffetto opens the centerpiece title story with protagonist Kristin facing sexual assault from a Hollywood producer, making victimization the common denominator for his female characters. It’s the late 1980s, and Kristin retreats into analog isolation in a coastal California community stuck in time. Holden, whose drug addiction ended his professional baseball career, finds a new role as her protector. Unlike Scott and Zelda, their pathologies mesh. Amid all the pain in these stories, Raffetto demonstrates a hopeful compassion for his literary giants and damaged twentysomethings, whose grand passions so submerge them that they’re forced to sink or swim.

Takeaway: Strong stories of two fragile, dangerous 20th century romances.

Comparable Titles: Therese Anne Fowler’s Z, Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s Someone Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-