Friday, May 1, 2009

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Summary: Nick Carraway narrates his summer in West Egg where he is next door neighbor to the rich Jay Gatsby. After being invited to one of Gatsby's opulent parties, Nick becomes closer to his neighbor with a secret past and learns about Gatsby's interest in Nick's cousin, Daisy. Nick becomes more and more involved in the lives of Gatsby, Daisy, and her husband Tom as the summer progresses.

Musings: This is another book I, like every other person in America, read in high school. Unlike Slaughterhouse-Five, I do have a decent recollection of the basic plot of the book, probably because I had to read it again in college. Somehow I haven't remembered the literary commentary on the book along with the plot, which probably would have helped as I read it.

I know I didn't like The Great Gatsby the first two times I read it, and I didn't like it any more as an adult. I can see why the book would be lauded, but its appeal was lost on me.

The book takes place in the languid '20s, and the reader, like the characters, goes through most of the books in a humid haze of parties, drinking, and sitting around.

Gatsby's intense devotion to Daisy is odd and inexplicable to me. I didn't understand his obsession to her or the extremes to which he has gone to make himself appear deserving of her.

If nothing else, the book reinforces the idea that nothing changes and that the “can-do” idea of the American Dream is unrealistic. You may be able to make a fortune, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have what you want.

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