Fiction: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Re-read. Our February challenge book.

Dad comments that he always enjoys it when he’s reading it, but later he never remembers what it was about: a year from now he’ll think: “What was the plot of the Great Gatsby? I know it’s in the ’20s…” My friend Cathy loves this book…but she always teaches it to her high schoolers every year–the plot would definitely stay in your memory if you were doing that! 🙂

It’s well written, nice voice, really easy to pick up and read, has a nice conversational tone, Nick is really likable. But doesn’t necessarily take you somewhere. Similar to Austen it has that veneer of society being worthwhile. Very cool tone to it.

Easy to forget the hollowness in Gatsby–it’s so much all show. All the characters are so shallow, see, for example, Gatsby putting up a huge facade to chase this really childish illusion of the perfect romance, the kind of thing you believe when you’re 12. Everybody’s living a fake life, cruising along as if, if they keep moving, nothing’s going to catch with up them. Even Nick’s psuedo relationship with the tennis player. She’s a real slippery character.

Dad remembered the movie from 40 years ago – just a clunker. Robert Redford played Gatbsy, Sam Waterston played Nick – it was a huge flop.

A very Midwestern exchange:
Me: I found all the MN stuff really surprising. didn’t remember that at all.
Dad: The Great Gatsby is like War & Peace to Minnesotans. Once heard a professor at a conference in Minnesota being asked how wonderful it was and he gave a very careful answer: “Well, you know it’s one of those essential works of a period where, in America, you just can’t approach the ’20s without reading the Great Gatsby” i.e., worth reading for its picture of a time and place, but not putting it up with the great novels.

Verdict: Thumbs up for an enjoyable easy read, but would not appear on our Greatest Hits list.

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