Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Great Gatsby

I think my high school offered "The Great Gatsby" (180 pages) by F. Scott Fitzgerald as required reading in Advance Placement English during the 9th grade. Since I was in retarded English until the 11th grade I never had a chance to read the supposed "great American novel" until now. From the book:

"The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted 'gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,' it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature."

The good:

I guess Baz Luhrman's upcoming Gatsby film was my primary motivation for wanting to read the novel.

The Jazz Age would be a great time to live in America I think. I've always been interested in this time in American history and culture. How cool would it be to be a bootlegger for Arnold Rothstein? Well it didn't turn out too well for Jay Gatsby...

I found the story very readable considering the era in which it was written. I was hooked after a chapter or two. I enjoyed the themes and found the dialogues very intriguing.

The bad:

Great American novel? More like a novella. At 180 pages this story is pretty lean and could've used a bit more girth. How often do I complain about that in a book?

Most of the characters are unlikable and even down right disgusting (Daisy and Tom). The best I can describe anyone is probably Gatsby whom I just felt sorry for by the conclusion. I'm still not sure what to think about Nick Carraway and his self righteousness, or maybe he was just drunk throughout the story.

The ugly:

There were a couple of lines here and there that to me were very racist. Whether these feelings were Fitzgerald's or his characters I'm not sure.

Old money trumps new money every time.

Again, I really enjoyed the story and interaction between the characters even though most of the characters aren't sympathetic, or at least they weren't to me. The great American novel? Hardly, but there is some good stuff to be found here especially for those interested in America of the Jazz Age. I think the great American novel would include more than just a story about New York's social elite. Recommended.

1 comment:

Amy said...

The great American novel doesn't have to be a fabulous story. In my humble opinion, the story evoked an emotional response from you, even though it was disgust, and THAT makes it a good book. If an author can make you really feel something...mission accomplished.

Glad you finally read it, and I CANNOT wait for the movie. If you have a chance, watch the old Robert Redford version. It is breathtaking.