I thought for a while on what I would say about this book, and I’m still coming up a little short. It’s a good story about a displaced bachellor gets caught up in an affluent neighbor’s quest for an old love, but beyond that I’m not quite sure what all the hubub is about. I must be missing something obvious.
Mayve the book’s literary value is how it encapsulates the 1920s in America. It’s a period you don’t hear a lot about, but the spasmic increase in wealth across nearly all social stratas and the juxtoposition of decadance against the horrors of World War I that created it is a pretty interesting backdrop. The Great Gatsby seems to give you a pretty good sense of this, and you can see how a simple Minnesota boy like the narrator finds it all a little bewildering and disconcerting. The book also does a great job of using the characters of Daisy and Gatsby to epitomize the antagonism between ostentatious new rich and the disassociated old rich. Even though they pine for each other, these two characters are as star-crossed as you’ll find this side of a Shakespeare play (which, come to think of it, my English teacher wanted me to read, too). Ultimately it doesn’t work out and Gatsby has to accept that he can’t recreate something that existed before the 20s and their associated lifestyles came roaring in. I imagine a lot of this kind of thing happened at the time as society in general flopped down into the self-destrictive decadance that eventually landed it in the Great Depression.
Actually, I guess I take it all back. Maybe I do get it, or at least part of it. Well played, Mr. Fitzgerald, well played.