Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: "The Great Gatsby" Classic a Month #3

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
2 out of 5 stars

I really thought I would enjoy this one more than I did. My sister had read (most of) it in high school and liked it, several friends loved it on Goodreads. But...I didn't. Maybe I just didn't get it. I thought about checking out the movie version from the library and see if that would help me understand it better.

Okay, so I know this is supposed to be about the "Great American Dream" even if that's not what Fitzgerald intended when he originally wrote it. Money buys happiness and all that jazz. But none of the characters seem particularly happy to me. The narrator, Nick Carraway, is a young man in his late twenties/early thirties who has convinced his father to pay for a summer "working" in New York City but really he just parties constantly on the small island across the Long Island Sound. He has grand plans to become a "well-rounded man" by reading lots of educational books and getting plenty of fresh air etc...

That kind of goes out the window when he gets invited to his neighbor's house one evening for a party. The neighbor turns out to be the fabulously rich and infamous Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is from mysterious origins, throws huge, lavish parties that last until dawn and doesn't drink so naturally he is very popular and very talked about.

It's a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.

Gatsby and Carraway become friends of sorts and semi-confidants. Or rather, Gatsby tells Carraway all kinds of things about himself and doesn't really care to hear anything about Carraway. It seemed he was very lonely and when he finally found someone willing to listen and help him, then he took advantage of that person as much as he could.

None of the characters are "likable" to me. Maybe they're not supposed to be, I don't know. Daisy, the love interest, just comes across as a spoiled rich girl only interested in keeping her fantastic life of partying and lounging about. I had no sympathy for her, Gatsby, Carraway, any of them. So you tell me: what do you like about this book? Please, explain it to me!

I hope she'll be a fool -- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.


  1. *GASP!* Blasphemy! Lol, Gatsby was one of the few books I was forced to read in high school that I thoroughly enjoyed. I have a thing for tragic heroes just like Gatsby, decadent worlds like the Jazz Age one built by Fitzgerald, and I also love that, like Nabakov's Lolita, beautiful prose and rhetoric later served to be only a facade, a ruse to cover up the misery and tragedy everyone was perpetuating on others and themselves. It's pessimism of the American Dream got to me in a way that Gertrude Stein and T.S. Eliot never did (The Jazz Age literature/poetry was kind of hit-and-miss for me). It's one of the few books I would give 5/5 stars.

    That said, I totally get how hard it is to enjoy a book full of characters you don't find likeable. And I couldn't stand Daisy, either! But I don't think we were supposed to like her, she seemed to personify the instability and deceit behind the shiny-happy-people of the time. Will you be seeing the movie when it comes out later this year?

    1. I probably will see the movie when it comes out on DVD. I do think I missed quite a bit so I'm hoping that will help make it more clear.

      I really enjoy books about the Jazz Age too, I loooove music from that era, but I don't think I've read many that were actually written during that time. Maybe I should make one my next Classic. Any suggestions? :)

  2. Hmmm...maybe a bit of D.H. Lawrence? Lady Chatterley's Lover is a great summer read, 50 Shades of Grey could never achieve the steaminess of Lady Chatterley's (plus it was a banned book at one point)! But if you want something underrated, go for The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder. I was surprised by that book, should be more famous than it is. Of course, you can go super-easy and read Winnie The Pooh, as it, too, was published during the 20's! Looking forward to the next Classic review :)

  3. Awesome! Thanks for the suggestions, I'll check them out. And there will be another classics review up Monday! :)