Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: The Great Gatsby

I could almost swear to God that I read this book in high school, old sport. Didn't I?! I was under the impression that I had. I even rated it on GoodReads (4 stars, thank you very much) but I realized that with the movie coming out soon I should probably do a re-read and plus the commercials make it look tre' appealing so Friday night I picked up a copy and I really don't think I actually have read this book before. Perhaps it was assigned and in a fit of rebellion I refused to read the book. Maybe I was protesting something...

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publication Date: 1925
Pages: 180
Publisher: Scribner
Where I Got It: Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Huntersville, NC
Dates I Read It: April 26 & 27, 2013
Number of Stars: 5/5

So, my first thought right in the middle of Barnes and Noble was "what the fuck, this isn't The Great Gatsby. This book is way too small. Is this some abridged bullshit or something? I bet it is, it's even got the movie cover. I hate when books have the movie cover on the cover on the book. Damn." Turns out the book is not actually all that thick (I had it finished Saturday evening despite being out of town all day Saturday). I do remember hating the original cover, there is absolutely nothing appealing about it at all. I wish that the publisher would "jazz" it up a little. I judge books based on their covers. There. I said it. I didn't like the original cover but I freakin' hate the movie one (even if DiCaprio is fun to look at).

Okay, let's get on with the review. So we get this story told to us from Nick Carraway. I have to start with Nick. I am so in love with Nick Carraway; he is one of my all time favorite narrators in literature. I refuse to accept the fact that he may be an unreliable narrator, because he is so simple and naive and concurrently grand and sophisticated that I want to believe every bit of the tangled web of Gatsby's mess of a life that Nick weaves for us. I love the outsider looking in narrator and I trust them more because they are just that- the outsider. There are some other characters that have to come in to play and I did not care for many (any) of them really ( did empathize with Gatsby and I did like him all right), and I really don't think that I was supposed to. Let's start off with the title character of Jay Gatsby (a.k.a. Jimmy Gatz), shall we. This guy had a poor upbringing, fell in love with a girl, fell in love once and almost completely. He is then shipped off to war where he does extraordinarily well and finds that Daisy is tired of waiting and has married someone else (here's your first sign that you're better off alone, dude) and then he comes back home, accrues wealth like a boss, moves in across the sound from Daisy (and her freakishly wealthy and total douchebag of a husband, Tom) and then he begins to throw meaningless parties (someone even put champagne in his hair- JUST FOR THE FUNSY OF IT), sits back and waits for Daisy to show. If your girl is easily lured out by the sounds of a kegger then here's your second sign, old sport. I get it though, Gatsby, I really really do. I was so in love with this one guy all through college and graduate school and I ruined good relationships with great guys because I would do anything this unattainable guy told me to do. It was a very unhealthy infatuation and I, unlike Gatsby, was fortunate enough to have real friends. One of them finally sat me down one day and told me that this guy was a chump, a user and not all that good looking. "BV, ya gotta let that fish fry." were his exact words to me and I did let that fish fry, and I'm better for it today. And I was never shot to death in my own pool.

I've been ripping on Daisy, and that's not quite fair. Did I care for her as a person? No. Was she vapid, annoying, spoiled, selfish driftwood? Yes! Do I fault her for these things? No. Why? Because I would LOVE to be a party girl in the 1920's! What a life! She was only playing the part that she had been born into and no one can blame her for that, as vexatious as she was. So this book is about wealthy people living wealthy lives and basking in their wealth. I have to admit that I was jealous as hell of most of the characters in this book. They're living the life of Riley! I mean... aren't they? I have to admit that I lead a pretty charmed life in school myself. The coursework came naturally to me so I never really had to put in a great deal of effort with homework. All I really had to do was sober up long enough to sit through a few hour long classes a week (usually in the late afternoons) and then commence partying. I was out of my mind with grief when I was finally forced to grow up and start working a 40+ hour a week job. I wish I could live the life these people lead, until I started to think about these characters- did I really want what they had, let's look at the facts: Tom's got mistresses all over the world. Daisy I swear has some sort of underlying mental health issue (perhaps a touch of Bi-Polarism or Manic Depression). Gatsby can't get over a summer fling from five years before and is stalking the shit out of her and as it turns out, money really can't buy him happiness. I really believe that Jordan, the female golf pro, is a closeted lesbian. Myrtle is literally ripped open. And Daisy is probably going to eventually commit suicide from the guilt of her actions. Okay, my life's really not so bad and their lives really aren't so great. However, I am still chasing down that dream. Sure my dream may not be a dude that I loved a few years ago, it's a job I really care about doing each day, a family I love, a little bit of money for a rainy day, and a sweet little cat named Rasputin to sit on my lap while I watch the Golden Girls reruns. Don't we all have something that we are yearning for? Aren't we all still shooting for that American Dream that Fitzgerald introduced us to? Aren't we all longing for something or someone? When you think about it, aren't we all Gatsby at heart?

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