Book Review: The Great Gatsby
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.
I last read this book in 9th grade, and didn't really remember liking it. I wasn't entirely looking forward to reading it, but it was the current book for the book club I'm a part of, so I gave it a try. I ended up enjoying this book so much more than I thought! It's amazing how different a book can be reading it at age 14 and again at age 28. It made me want to see the movie even more than I already do, and it made me realize that this really is a great piece of American literature. The description above says it all about the plot, and if it's been many years since you've read this book, I recommend giving it another try. You might be surprised how much more you like it now!
Here's our fabulous hostess of the evening, Kerry, who threw a very successful Roaring 20's, Great Gatsby themed Book Club meeting!
Have you ever read this book, or have you seen the new movie since it opened last week?