The Great Gatsby

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Just finished reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. It’s a masterpiece.

Can’t say too much about the actual story without giving away the plot, but I have to say that the last three chapters broke my heart and I cried. I’m not the most stoic of readers, but I don’t usually cry when reading; and I can’t remember the last time, or if there ever was a time, that a book made me cry like this one did. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend that you go into it expecting to be moved, and certainly not expecting to cry, because if you do, you probably won’t. 🙂

Luckily, I went into this book with absolutely no expectations and no idea of the plot, other than it involved a fellow named “Gatsby” but the story was told by someone else, and I was pretty sure it involved some kind of love story. Also, aside from the outline given for each “player” on the cover of my book (see the above picture), I had no preconceived ideas about any of the characters. I’m glad I didn’t know more, because I was able to learn about each person as the plot unfolded and that added a level of realism–it felt very similar to getting to know someone in real life.

As far as the writing goes, there’s an understated elegance in Fitzgerald’s writing which is brilliant. Each sentence is necessary and worded perfectly, but it isn’t flashy–the writing doesn’t draw attention to itself. It’s wonderful storytelling and Fitzgerald makes it all seem so effortless. If I were to describe the book in a few words, without giving away any of the plot, I would say it’s simple yet intricate, honest and elegant. It’s pretty much a perfect novel.

So if you’re looking for a good book to read and you haven’t yet read The Great Gatsby I highly recommend you do. I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy the plot or connect with the characters, but even if it were only to appreciate the superb writing, I would say read this book. It’s relatively short, for a novel (my “A-format” paperback, with average size font, is about 200 pages), so it really shouldn’t be too hard to find the time to read it. And when you read it, or if you’ve already read it, let me know what you think. 🙂

I haven’t read anything else by F. Scott Fitzgerald (aside from a few quotes here and there), but I will definitely be checking out more of his work. Not really sure where to start, though, so If anyone (Tom? 🙂 ) has any particular favorites or recommendations, I would be very happy to hear them.

P.S. I just found out now (when interestingliterature liked this post and I clicked on their blog and happen to see on their twitter feed) that today is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday. He was born 1896, Sept 24th. So my first post about F. Scott Fitzgerald just happens to be on his birthday! What a coincidence!  🙂

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7 responses to “The Great Gatsby”

    • Meg says :

      Note: Big time plot spoilers in the above link. If you haven’t read the novel yet, read at your own risk. If you’re curious enough to click on the link, I suggest you skip the entire “plot” paragraph and read the “review” paragraph at the bottom.

    • Meg says :

      An opposing view, nice. 🙂

      Thanks for the link, Rebecca. You have an interesting viewpoint. I think I might have approached the book from the opposite spectrum. I’d say I was interested, but not excited. The Great Gatsby had been sitting on my shelf since Christmas, and I was going on a trip and was looking for a book to read while traveling and thought, “Why not?” I knew it was a classic, but I was skeptical about it to begin with, expecting it to be completely overrated. So maybe that made a difference.

      (Note to anyone reading, who has not read the story yet: semi character spoilers in the next two paragraphs)

      As far as the characters being shallow and unlikable, I also found most of the characters to be unlikable, but I think that’s the way Fitzgerald wanted to portray them. Personally, I don’t have to like the characters in a story to enjoy the story itself. In this case, aside from being unlikable, I still found the characters interesting and realistic and felt I got to know them pretty well.

      I think Fitzgerald gives just the right amount of information about each character to complete the story. If I would have had to hear any more about the psyche of Tom Buchanan, or George B. Wilson, or Myrtle, or Daisy (for that matter) I’m pretty sure it would have been too much, but any less would not have been enough. Along the same lines, something I thought was interesting was that, with the exception of Nick, Tom and Myrtle, my opinion and understanding of the main characters changed several times as the story progressed.

      Another factor (and I don’t mean this at all in a patronizing way), could be our ages and where we are at in our lives. I’m about a decade older than you, and perhaps if I had read The Great Gatsby when I was the same age, I might not have liked it as much.

      For example, when I was twelve, I watched the movie Enchanted April. I absolutely hated it and labeled it “the most boring movie in the world.” It was at the top of the list of movies I would never recommend to anyone. Then six or seven years later I was strangely in the mood to see a boring movie and thought, “Why not watch the world’s most boring movie?” 🙂 So I watched it expecting to fall asleep, but instead, I absolutely loved it and realized that it wasn’t the movie that was bad, I just didn’t “get it” when I was twelve.

      Similarly, there are movies that I loved and thought were hilarious or suspenseful as a teenager, that I watch now, and they aren’t even half or a third as good as I remembered them being. So perhaps, you could try coming back to the book in ten years or so. 🙂

      Having said all of that, I totally get that The Great Gatsby still might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Thanks again for the link. It was interesting to read about how you understood the plot and what you thought of the story. By the way, I see that you’re from Austria. I’m curious to know, did you read the book in German or in English? Also, is English your first language? If it isn’t, your English is amazing.

      • thepunktheory says :

        Thanks for your reply =) it’s always interesting to hear other thoughts on a topic.
        Maybe you are right. Ten years from now I might like the book. But I usually like this kind of stories and that’s why it disappointed me even more.

        I read it in English. Most of the books I own are in English. I like to read the stories in their original form, a translation can change so much and I want to know what it was the writer wanted to say, not some translator.
        English is not my first language, in Austria we speak a German dialect. Thank you for the compliment =)

  1. Melinda says :

    I enjoyed The Great Gatsby, but I liked the movie more. The read was ok-ish

    • Meg says :

      Hi Melinda,
      Thanks for your comment. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’d been making a point not to watch it until I read the book. Now that I’ve read it, I will definitely be seeing the movie. I heard the movie is a bit different from the book so, right now, I’m trying to stay away from reading any reviews or watching any clips that might spoil the movie for me.
      Btw, I just popped over to your site and read your review on The Great Gatsby. I had some thoughts, but don’t want to post anything here that might spoil the plot, so perhaps when I have some time I’ll mosey on over to your site and post a comment. 🙂

  2. tomoko (@tokosmo) says :

    I enjoyed your review of this book. I, too, loved it when I first read it, but it’s been so long now, that I only remember my general impressions, which are quite similar to what you’ve written here.

    The other of his works that I’ve read are Tender Is the Night and Tales of the Jazz Age. The first one is darker, and his last completed novel (I believe). The Tales one is a compilation of short stories–more on the light side.

    There are certain authors I would read simply to enjoy the words they use, their writing style, and Fitzgerald is definitely one of those authors for me.

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