Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Break Book One: The Great Gatsby

                I read a lot. Or at least I used to. Then I went to college.
                There’s something wrong with that.
                So I’m going to drown myself in literature this Christmas break. Classics, modern bestsellers, the occasional nonfiction, and anything on my shelf I haven’t read (or finished) yet. And I’ll post each item on my reading list here, a few days after I’ve finished each book. It’s going to be a fantastic couple of weeks.
                Then I’ll go back to school, and I won’t have time for this anymore.
Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
                F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby follows the relationship between Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby through the eyes of Daisy’s cousin and Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick Carraway.
Gatsby is a pretty mysterious guy. He throws lavish parties all the time, and everybody knows his name, but nobody knows where he’s from, how he ended up living in a mansion on Long Island, or even what his job is.
                I don’t know whether it was his mysterious charm, his apparently never-ending supply of money, or his dashing good looks that attracted Daisy to him five years ago. But whatever it was must have been powerful, because even though Daisy’s married now (to a jerk named Tom) and has a daughter, she and Gatsby still, well… you know.
                The affair annoyed me, but for the most part I just pitied everyone. I felt sorry for Daisy because she’s married to a jerk, for Gatsby because Daisy’s married to a jerk, for Nick because he got caught in the middle of this whole situation, and for Tom because… actually, no. I didn’t feel sorry for Tom. It’s hard to pity a jerk with few redeeming qualities.
                Pros:  Fitzgerald knows how to write. He uses very simple language, but somehow gets across a sophisticated, nostalgic voice that enhances the novel’s tone. His writing is jazz and moonlight and champagne and everything classy, but not snobbish—it’s completely within reach and completely brilliant.  
                Cons:  You’ve probably read The Great Gatsby already, and it was probably for a high school English class. That, unfortunately, can ruin even the most wonderfully written novel. Also, if you usually only enjoy fast-moving plots, Gatsby might not be for you. And it’s kind of depressing.
                Conclusion:  Read it. Absolutely. Just be prepared for the sad bits.
                Next up:  Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder.

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