May 29, 2012

This Classic Moment #1

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Scribner Paperback Fiction, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Medium: Hardback (Paperback Swap)

The high school I attended wasn’t the best academically, nor was I the brightest student in the bunch.  Looking back, I probably was brighter than many, but I failed to apply myself, and I wasn’t forced to go above and beyond my average and sometimes above average grades.  There are only a handful of books that I remember reading, and only one or two stuck with me.  So, now starting out in my 40’s, I am trying to rectify that misguided youth and start reading some classic literature.

My bookshelves are lined with beautiful, classic books (that mostly belong to my husband, who has a true love of literature) that I pass over for good, old-fashioned escapism.  Shame on me!  There are a plethora of books out there that are timeless and beautifully written, and by goodness, I’m going to get through a few of them, even if it kills me!  Because I have committed to reviewing everything I read, these books will fall under the heading of This Classic Moment.

My book club – Books & Beer – chose a classic for this month’s discussion; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby.  I was skeptical, but I plunged right in and finished with a day before book club to spare!  That’s record for me!!

I really loved this book, but it made me so sad.  The remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl are raining on our little part of the world today, and the gloomy skies match my feelings about Gatsby and Nick and Tom and Daisy and poor, poor Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.  Someone mentioned to me when I told them what I was reading that the book was a love story.  This I completely agree with, but they never told me what a tragic love story it was!

From the beginning chapters when the Gatsby character was revealed, you could tell how depressed he was.  Nick lived next door and attended the lavish parties, but Gatsby never really participated and mingled amongst his guests.  He watched from the balconies, from the yard, from far away, seeming to be waiting for something wonderful to happen.  And Nick the guy who really wanted a friend, was always there as well, observing, taking notice, also waiting for something to happen.

The readers are also introduced to Tom and Daisy who live not far from Nick and Gatsby.  As a reader, these characters exuded the rich lifestyle that is often portrayed of the 1920’s extravagant lifestyle.  They were lying on couches, having their every need attended to by servants, drinking and eating unrestrained, and from the outsider looking it, everything appeared to be wonderful.

It doesn’t take very long, but Fitzgerald reveals the dark sides of his characters, their flaws, and their downfalls.  Prohibition is gaining traction, but it never seems to affect this crowd, for there is always a party, always a road trip, and always a cocktail.  While reading The Great Gatsby there was always a sense of something impending that was going to occur.  It reminded me of how the leaves turn inside out in the wind and how eerily quiet it gets right before a storm.  Then with a bang, the storm arrives!

And in The Great Gatsby, the storm does indeed arrive!!  And as with any storm, there is always an aftermath and clean-up.  The clean-up is a sad ordeal, but the narrator of the tragedy, Nick, does a good job, and in the end, he earned my respect, because he stood up for his morals and for what he believed to be just, and most of all, he did right by his friend.

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to read The Great Gatsby, take a day and check it out.  It’s a quick little read, and shouldn’t take you too long, though this isn’t a book to rip through, the words are written beautifully, almost poetically, and you will want to savor them, for they linger with you long after you put the book down.

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