F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, “Tarquin of Cheapside”, contains what I would call a major gimmick – but because of his writing style, it’s an eloquent gimmick.
In Part I, Soft Shoes (one person) is being pursued through the streets of London by Flowing Boots (more than one person). In Part 2, Wessel Caxter hides Soft Shoes from the pursuers while he is reading Edmund Spencer’s poem The Fairie Queene. Flowing Boots barges into Wessel’s apartment but doesn’t find Soft Shoes. During this scene, the reader gets an idea of why Flowing Boots is chasing Soft Shoes. It has something to do with the sister of one of Flowing Boots. Soft Shoes then spends the night at Wessel’s writing a poem about his adventure. It was at this point that I figured Soft Shoes was probably someone well-known. In Part 3, Wessel finds Soft Shoes’ poem and begins reading it. Soft Shoes’ identity is revealed through the beginning lines of his poem.
I consider the story fun and pleasant. This was one of Fitzgerald’s earlier stories and foreshadows his writing style. I’ve always thought of Fitzgerald as a compliment to Hemingway, his fellow “Lost Generation” member. His writing style is ornate compared to Hemingway’s stripped-down style. I discovered Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby shortly after I had discovered Hemingway and The Sun Also Rises – back in tenth grade English. The two of them continue to be my favorites all these years later.