Summer Vacation, Day 13: Gatsby

OK, I finished Slaughterhouse-Five this evening and will set sail shortly in pursuit of Moby Dick. I've not yet given my Three Things To Love about The Great Gatsby yet, so maybe I'll do that tonight. Yeah. I think I will.

Three Things To Love about The Great Gatsby:

  1. Beautiful Tragedy: I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for tragic romance. I loved that, try as she might, Daisy was too honest to say she never loved her jerk of a husband. I love that the dashing Gatsby has it all (well, almost) and doesn't quite know what to do with it. I love how Daisy and Tom skate, and stay married. I love the description of the "unmistakable air of natural intimacy" about them as they sit quietly, not touching their food. They may not love each other; they may not even like each other, but they still care for each other.

  2. Poetic Description: Fitzgerald has a knack for surprising, poetic description. The book is beautiful, sensuous, violent, but not titillating or gory. The violence blossoms sudden and vivid, but doesn't overwhelm. And everyday details are sometime given an unexpected twist: "At 158th Street the cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment houses." And how about the moment when Gatsby's Samson locks are shorn and he becomes her man (though she never really becomes his): "He knew that when he kissed this girl ... his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete." Magic.*

  3. Geographic Connections: Narrator Nick's a Yale grad. Gatsby's a Minnesota boy. Fitzgerald hails from the Twin Cities. And in the end, as Nick heads back to his "middle-west" on the train, he wonders if some "common deficiency" made he and Gatsby and even Daisy unsuited for Eastern life. I spent some time at Yale, and have visited New York a couple times, briefly. I wouldn't call it a "deficiency," but I think I know the feeling ...


I loved this book. Last thought? The foreword for Mr. Blue suggested that little book was Connelly's answer to Gatsby. I see now what that means.

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*Yeah, I'm a sappy romantic type. So?

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