Remembering Gatsby

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fact that I don't remember it probably proves my fear that I am more susceptible to subliminal suggestion than I think I should be. You see one day recently I had a sudden but strong urge to re-read The Great Gatsby and fortunately found many used copies in the used book store I frequent (where it just happens I work).

Anyway, a few days after that I saw a commercial for the new Gatsby movie, and even though I really thought I had spontaneously decided to read it, it is much more likely I caught a glimpse of the ad and unthinking tucked it just out of conscious view.

That said, I only read it once before and then as an adult, having defiantly, and in retrospect stupidly, refused to read it for a high school lit class. And although I read it sometime in the last 5 to 10 years all I remembered was that I told people that I liked it. So this was almost like reading it for the first time.

From my middle aged perspective I can see why it is considered a classic and I can also see why I probably only read a few pages in high school and threw it aside. For me the characters are somehow simultaneously shallow and complicated, and the story itself even more so. And I have to admit that in high school my literary depth never got much past A Separate Peace and even that was a stretch.

Ready Gatsby also clarifies for me why I didn't do well in lit class even if I had to read a book I enjoyed. In Gatsby there are loads of allusions, possible metaphors, foreshadowing and other literary attributes one could write a paper about. But for me that would take all the joy out of reading and letting all of the possible meanings and ambiguities roll over you as you read. Of course I suppose I could read it once for delight and then for possible analysis, but since I don't now and haven’t for years had to read to write a paper to get a grade I'll just hang onto what I have and luxuriate in its ambiguity.

So yes I think it is a great book and the more I reflect in general about what I just read the more I feel that way. But gun to my head, had to write a paper about it for high school or community college American lit class I am pretty sure anything I could come up with would NOT be what the teacher might be hoping for.

And writing this just now make me kind of want to read it again already. BUT now I'm off to Neuromancer by William Gibson.

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