« Day before the world ends, again. | Main | Midnight in Paris, jackhammers in Los Angeles »

May 23, 2011

Book Club: The Great Gatsby

The first time I read The Great Gatsby was in high school. The next time I picked up my worn paperback copy was probably sometime in the pretentious college years when I read classics to look smart and literary but really would have preferred to be reading a grocery store paperback.

I was surprised then how little of this book I remembered when I dusted it off this go around and read it. I felt so much more connected to the story this time. Maybe it was a side effect of reading A Moveable Feast so recently, Hemingway's chapters about his relationship with Scott Fitzgerald were fascinating and after I finished that book I got caught up in a wikipedia loop reading about his life and his marriage to crazy Zelda and her life.

Jay Gatsby doesn't seem that far off to me, he's the Jazz Age precursor to the Kardashians. Or maybe it's more accurate to portray him like any number of wealthy, self-made powerful men who fall from grace in a spectacular burnout (the recent news about the IMF chief come to mind for anyone else?) I thought this novel would read like a relic but has much changed, really? Rich, bored people are the stuff of TV these days. The Real Housewives might as well be a Hamptons garden party .. OH WAIT. It kind of is one.

What stood out to me most on my re-read of this book is the way the author sculpts a scene out of words. You can feel the place. I think this is one of those books that was wasted on me as a young reader, I just didn't have the appreciation for it the first go round but I'm so happy I re-read it. It's a version of the American dream in its own underbelly kind of way.

So what did you think? Had you read the book in high school, too, and what was your impression while re-reading it? What did you think of Jay and Daisy -- sympathetic or vapid? Did the inside peek into Fitzgerald's life from A Moveable Feast enhance your impression of the story? Did you have a moment where you wished you'd been alive in the 1920s? What did you think of Nick?

And finally, did you enjoy the book? Or did it leave you feeling a little sad at the end?

Posted by laurie at May 23, 2011 8:44 AM