Monday, April 13, 2009


finished my first book for the 100 books thing and wrote a little "review"
Great Gatsby

Did you remember that Tom and Daisy had a kid?
Pammy is her name. She’s three.
It’s odd, the things you notice when you reread a classic. I’m now convinced that the only reason the book is assigned to high school kids is its length. For example,

A) If I didn’t have kids of my own, I don’t think I’d have noticed the kid, since the Buchanans don’t seem to, either. I would have noticed Tom breaking his mistress’s nose for mentioning his wife, though. It, too, came as a surprise to me on the reread (am I really such an inattentive first-time reader?).

B) If I hadn’t moved to New York after living in Chicago and Minneapolis, some of the West vs. East would have been greeted with a “whatever.” Makes sense now, though.

C) If I hadn’t passed my thirtieth birthday a while ago, I would have rolled my eyes at this observation:

“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.” (177)

Which is part of this theme:

Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known. (59)

“You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
I’ve always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. (154)

Put Gatsby on your list of 100 books to read five years from now. It’ll be worth it (again). I’m sure I’ll be picking up recommendations from all of you, too.

The oddest line for the contemporary reader is probably

-- intruding into one chamber where a disheveled man in pajamas was doing liver exercises on the floor. (91)

But Chapter IV, in which he describes the Long Island crowd, is filled with great nuggets as well. For example:

From East Egg, then, came the Chester Beckers and the Leeches, and a man named Bunsen, whom I knew in Yale, and Doctor Webster Civet, who was drowned last summer up in Maine. And the Hornbeams and the Willie Voltaires, and a whole clan named Blackbuck, who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses like goats at whosoever came near. And the Ismays and the Chrysties (or rather Hubert Auerbach and Mr. Chrystie’s wife), and Edgar Beaver, whose hair, they say, turned cotton-white one winter afternoon for no good reason at all. (61-2)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I FIRST started reading I thought You had to read this in high school and you're reading it again. As I read to the end now I know why.