The Good Gatsby

Posted: October 2, 2013 by writingsprint in Essay, My two cents
Tags: , , , ,

The Great GatsbyI need to work on my journaling. For a second there I had no idea what the last book I read before The Great Gatsby, was. Luckily, I’m on Goodreads (this is epically lame) and I saw that the last book I read was The Manager’s Guide to Workplace Safety. Not my normal subject matter, so I’ll let myself off the hook for forgetting. (By the way, The Manager’s Guide is actually a darned good book. It’s engagingly written and it gets you to question your assumptions about how to manage your employees.)

The Great Gatsby is also engagingly written. I would say that it’s the story of Nick Carraway, a young bonds trader who moves to Long Island to seek his fortune, but the story isn’t about Nick at all. The Great Gatsby is the story of Jay Gatsby, Nick’s fabulously wealthy neighbor, and his pursuit of Daisy Buchanan, the love of his life. It’s also a peek over the fence into the life of the super rich in the 1920s. You can think of Nick as a glass of champagne that gets handed from person to person exchanging toasts at a New Year’s party. He’s there when all the action happens, but he’s never the reason why.

Without going into too much detail, Nick becomes one of Jay’s few real friends. They go to parties. They go fishing. Nick helps Jay with his romancing of Daisy. I found one of the romancing scenes to be my favorite part of the book, because it showed Gatsby as nothing more than a lonely, awkward young man in a very expensive suit.

I wish I could say that I liked The Great Gatsby more. I like history, and Gatsby was an accessible, easy to read story about life among the kinds people who could have caused the stock market crash of 1929. Some of the descriptions make you stop reading and go “wow.” (My favorite: “He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him.” Talk about an image that knocks your socks off.) In the end I was disappointed. I’d been looking forward the story of Nick Carraway making his way among giants. I wound up reading a story about Nick making his way among a handful of rich assholes, and trying to be friends with the one who wanted to be something better. The story about Jay and Daisy got off the ground, fluttered, and awkwardly made it back down to Earth, like a gull with a wounded wing. Gatsby’s fate seemed contrived. In the end, I thought it was anticlimactic compared to the rest of the book.

But then again, in the end it’s a story about disappointment, isn’t it?

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