Sunday, June 11, 2017

Book Review 46. The Great Gatsby

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Book: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 180
Published: April 10th, 1925

Synopsis: This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ +

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I really, really, liked this book, which is a total surprise. I sort of dragged my feet before reading this one (it was required reading for school), because to me, any book written before about 1950 is an intimidating classic that will be go on too long, and be either completely impossible to understand or boring (or both). The Great Gatsby is not a book like that. It's filled with grand themes and little moments alike, and is an absolute pleasure to read.

The characters were all distinct, and flawed, which I appreciated. I went back and forth throughout the entire book trying to decide if I liked them as a person (especially Daisy, who, as of now, I don't think I like). None of them were black and white; all operated in zones of grey where their motivations were understandable but their actions were often dubious. Having characters like this always pushes books up another level for me, because it makes the characters feel more natural.

The book is also beautifully written. I mean this in two ways: first, the language itself was oftentimes poetic and striking, and second, there were lots of little moments, snippets of dialogue or commentary, that took me back for a second and really struck me. Fitzgerald really has a way with words.

I also appreciate how this book is short. It says what it needs to say and keeps the plot moving. The language is pretty, but it doesn't dwell on meaningless descriptions for too long. The pace is quick and easy, and if this book had been much longer, I almost certainly wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. It's a great summer read if you're looking for something short and easy to get through, but still want to look high-brow and be a bit snobby with your reading choices.

My favorite thing about this book, however, was not really the book at all. I read this book for an English class, and my father read it with me, so I had a ton of people to talk about it with. It's a great book to analyze and talk about with other people. What changed it from a five-star to a five-plus book is the fact that I had so much fun discussing it, which is truly an accomplishment since it's such a short book.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do I think the narrator, Nick, is gay? Hard and franly irrelevant question. I think he's bisexual. Just putting it out there, since I had an avid debate with one of my classmates on what he guessed his sexuality was.

Anyway, I loved the book. It truly deserves it spot as an American classic.

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