Friday, January 27, 2012

Fitzgerald, F. Scott (The Great Gatsby)

This is probably not a book you should read in many, many, itty, bitty sittings. In other words, don't make it a bedstand book. It's short, and can be read in one afternoon without any trouble.

This being a classic, I'm wary of saying anything at all about it that hasn't been said a million times by everyone, especially by much smarter people than myself. So, maybe just some general feelings instead.
  • The writing is gorgeous, especially his descriptions of places. I especially loved his description of the lawn outside Gatsby's house and how it creeped up to the house itself. What a bizarre and moving way to describe a lawn!
  • He is also a master of describing the elements of a scene in as few words as possible, while at the same time providing enough words to give you a completely full picture of that scene. Is there anyone else who has ever achieved that?
  • The story is really just a noir on the face of it. I know there's a ton of symbolism under that face, but I am usually pretty bad at recognizing these even when they're thrown in my face, so I won't pretend to tease that all out.
  • The last few pages felt to me like a clue to Fitzgerald's thoughts on American culture, and the divide between East and West, which harkened back to the rest of the book, but made you try to re-evaluate the entire book after you set it down. I have ambivalent feelings about that kind of novelistic approach.
  • If nothing else, the book really makes you hate rich people. Or at least, rich, amoral people.

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