Friday, November 26, 2010

The Great

'The Great Gatsby'
By: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Format: Audio CD
Published: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Oct. 2007
Originally Published: 1925
Narrator: Anthony Heald 

Synopsis: In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream. 

My Take: I read this book for the first time in high school. It was, for us, required reading and it was, for me, a fabulous book. One of those books that while I don't remember much these many years later, I do remember it fondly. It's a slip of a book and I kept it with me on my many moves since high school thinking at some point I would re-read it. The funny thing is, as a general rule, with all of the fabulous new books coming out all of the time, I don't pause to re-read. Yet, this year I have found myself re-reading two of my favorites from high school, this and 'Lonesome Dove'. This re-read was spawned by my book club. For December they decided to do a classic and I am so glad they did. I think it's a great idea. 

I found it available for audio download from my library and I thought that might make for a different experience so I listened to it that way. The narrator was good although his female voice was kind of creepy but I could get over it.

Has everyone read 'The Great Gatsby' at this point in their lives? I feel like it's unnecessary for me to pick apart all of the things that happen in it. Instead I would like to point out what surprised me most upon reading it again for a second time. All I remember from my first time reading it was that I LOVED it and that there was some catastrophic car crash that kind of made the whole book spin on its axis. 

Nick Carroway is our narrator and also our moral touchstone for the book. While he runs with the high flying crowd of East and West Egg (Long Island, NY), he is not independently wealthy himself. Set in the 1920s the book really shows an interesting side to the 1920s, those heady days in between WWI and the Great Depression when life was going right and people were feeling good. 

Nick meets Daisy and Tom. You meet them and think, oh they are this nice married couple but, no everyone is cheating on everyone and gossiping about everyone else and it is just a little bit horrifying.  However they take Nick under his wing and that is how he meets the infamous Gatsby. 

Jay Gatsby has this aura of mystery around him for most of the novel. I think that was a great device. The book was named after him. Presumably he is in fact 'great' for some reason. Everyone in the book can't stop talking about this man, outdoing each other with a more fanciful story than the previous one, yet when Nick gets close to Gatsby it does come to light that he is just a man.

I do think it paints an interesting portrait of the 1920s which is why this book has stayed with everyone for so long. While it is a story of excess and drama and extremes, it doesn’t fall into the trappings of everyone talking in the vernacular of the day so that we can’t understand what’s going on now or using too many products or brands that are out of reference now. So many books fall into that trap and you can tell that they won’t age well. This one is a masterpiece at catching the time period as it was while at an extreme yet not aging itself for future generations. Would I have wanted to live with these people, no. Am I glad that I can watch their society in its extreme madness and gossip? Hell yes.

I haven’t seen the movie before but now I really want to because I know it’s a bit of a classic as well. I've also heard they are currently remaking the movie.

What are your thoughts on this masterpiece? 

(I got this from the library)


  1. It's one of the few classics I re-read (every couple of years). I usually manage to find something new about it each time. I'm not sure if I want to listen to it but maybe I'll see if my library has the audiobook. Couldn't hurt to give it a try, I suppose :-)

  2. I loved this in high school too, so I'm glad to see it stood up so well to a re-read.

  3. Have not read it, the classics, sigh, they just fall between the gaps for me :(

  4. I liked it a lot I recall, but it has been a while.

  5. This was required reading for me in high school as well, and unfortunately, I remember not liking it very much. I know that lots of people love Fitzgerald, but I could never get into his books. Different tastes I guess, but glad that you reread it and enjoyed it just as much the second time around!

  6. I liked The Great Gatsby in high school, but loved it many years later. It's probably time for another reread (maybe listen this time). The movie with Robert Redford is fantastic!

  7. I loved this, completely contrary to my expectations when I first read it in high school. The opening lines are some of my favorites in any book, and the scene where Daisy tells Gatbsy "You always look so cool" is one of the best I-love-you scenes ever.

  8. I read this years ago and loved it -- sometimes it's surprising what they make us read in high school that we can't appreciate back then, but the Great Gatsby is always great. I'm looking forward to the remake -- the original with Robert Redford is very good, but I haven't seen it since I was a teenager. It would be interesting to see what my adult self thinks of this movie now.

  9. I've reread this several times since high school and loved it every time. I always notice something I didn't notice before and that I guess it what makes it a great novel for me. I have heard about the new movie version and can't wait to see what they do with the story. I hope they do it justice!


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