Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Great Gatsby

Granted, I've already read this book. It was required reading for my AP US History class when we were covering the roaring 20s. But I figured, since a remake of the movie is coming out, I should refresh my memory. If you haven't seen the trailer, you should!

For those of you who were not required to read it in high school, The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick Carraway, home from the army and tired of the Midwest. So he moves out east to the disreputable West Egg in New York, and happens to become the neighbor of eccentric millionaire Jay Gatsby. Nick is acquainted with lighthearted Daisy Buchanan, who's married to Tom, an aggressive man with a mistress. Nick becomes the middleman between Mr. Gatsby and Daisy, who were childhood sweethearts.

What I love about this story is that in the end you aren't sure who you're supposed to agree with. Is it Nick, who was a devoted friend, but doesn't seem to play the main character in his own life? Is it Gatsby, who persuaded a married woman to have an affair, but loved her through war and separation? Or is it Tom, who could be the victim of adultery, but is also the perpetrator? It's a complicated novel, and that's why I love it. If I were to pick at nits, I would say that a lot of the dialogue is dichotomous, and questions that are asked by characters are never answered. But I love the moral dilemmas.

Read it. Really.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars


  1. I haven't read it. I was put off classics by school and having to analyze them for English, so I only read what was required for the class, really, hating nearly all of them, and it's unfortunately soured my taste for such books. So I kind of like when new movies come out of them because it gives me an opportunity to consume the story I would like to read but know I wouldn't.

    A related thought, I find it interesting that you re-read the book in preparation for the movie. I make a very concerted effort not to read the book too soon in advance of the movie's release, because it's so hard for a movie to live up to a book and then I also find myself hyper-aware of all the ways the movie differs.

  2. I don't know why I like to read books before the movies, because I know exactly how you mean. It never lives up to the book, and I can see clearly how the movie is different. Maybe it's a perverse pride in knowing that I read the book and remember enough to be able to spot the differences. Or maybe it's just a desperate hope that someday a movie will live up to the book.