Book Review: The Great Gatsby

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.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Great Gatsby

  1. Nope, I read the book twice. Once in high school, and once as an adult. Sucked both times. Another one of those classics that is supposed to be great but sucks too, Catcher in the Rye.
    However, I wanted your opinion on a soon to be classic film I notice you just watched. I am a huge (but rather later in the game) fan of Kevin Smith’s movies. The only one I didn’t like was Jay and Bob Strike Back (although Shannon Elizabeth made it bearable). I actually thought Clerks II was better than the original. It had a better story line, and I thought the characters were a bit deeper this time around.

  2. Wow, you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye? I thought it was awesome. It also contained the only stream of consciousness style writing that didn’t annoy me.
    I started to write a response about Clerks II, but it kind of grew to the point where it could be a whole separate post. So I’ll do that here in a minute…

  3. I’m actually kinda surprised that you prefer Catcher in the Rye to The Great Gatsby. I thought Catcher in the Rye was so full of teen angst that even as a high school student, I thought it was a bit much. Oh the irony. Either way, I still thought both were pretty good. Still not sure why they’re considered classics though. What makes a book a classic? I wonder if it’s just because so many people are forced to read it in public high schools . . .
    On a related note, did you know they began offering college literature classes based on Harry Potter? I think that’s AWESOME.

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