#5 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The cover of the first edition of The Great Ga...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Great Gatsby is always a crowd-pleaser to an American audience, right up until the end when we realize it’s actually a lengthy metaphor for all the things that are WRONG WITH AMERICA. It is a story of how dreams die, and how love dies, and how people die and sometimes no one cares. But, like, entertaining. Money, scandal, sex, crime, drugs… just add a pregnancy out of wedlock, and it’s a MAURY EPISODE waiting to happen.

There’s all this geographical symbolism with the WEST and the EAST, but really everyone is pretty much the same in terms of being shallow, self-involved, and RICH as a cheesecake. The tension between the social classes drives the story, just as it drove the ROARING TWENTIES and THE OC.

I can’t be the only one who finds it *AWKWARD* that the controversial character of Daisy is based on the author’s own wife, Zelda. Also that Jordan Baker was named for two car companies, just so Fitzgerald can make sure we know her character is both FAST and a VESSEL OF EVIL.

The whole situation erupts on Nick’s 30th birthday. None of those bastards even remember to bake him a cake. His DISGUST at the low attendance at Gatsby’s funeral reflects his realization that choosing style over substance wins you fans but not friends; Nick attends the party that was Gatsby’s life and is the only one left with a hangover. So he peaces out and heads back to the Midwest, where NOTHING HAPPENS EVER and people are MUCH HAPPIER.

Will the upcoming movie similarly favor style over substance? Considering director Baz Luhrman, YES. Also the PREVIEWS. But maybe this is meant to be symbolic, and Tobey Maguire will laugh all the way to the bank while we’re sitting in cinemas watching the most intentionally bad movie since BABY GENIUSES.

Is it one of the Greatest Books of All Time? It has GREAT in the title. This is not a world of subtlety.

Favorite quotes:

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

Read: 2003 maybe? Or 2005?

For some fascinating facts on Fitzgerald, check out this article on “Interesting Literature.”


7 thoughts on “#5 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. The Movie, although it seems to have a blooming and intriguing marketing campaign, still has mystery shrouded around it. Will the charm of the novel still be maintained (it seems like it will)?

    Another interesting thing to point out is the color “yellow” used in the novel. Yellow is associated to gold, prosperity, money and happiness. Yet, look at Gatsby’s yellow car and what it has become an instrument of: death. This again proves the irony and genius of Fitzgerald and how everything seems to fall beautifully into place.

    You should take a look at our short blog post regarding “The Great Gatsby”.


    • I would be more worried if they hadn’t selected such a great cast for the movie, but I think Baz Luhrman’s sumptuous style could be a perfect fit for this story… I’m really looking forward to seeing it! And I completely agree with your blog post — Fitzgerald’s talent for writing is drool-worthy. :)

  2. I sure hope the movie lives up to te hype. There’s another book by Fitzgerald which i actually prefer to the Great Gatsby… Tender Is The Night,…take a look at that one if you have a chance… I think it builds the characters better….

  3. Pingback: 75 Books! a.k.a. Three-Quarters! a.k.a. My Deathbed! | The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

  4. Pingback: Quick Reviews, Part VI | The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

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