The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.
Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New
First Lines: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticising anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’”
The Great Gatsby has been on my wishlist for a very long time. I can only ever remember hearing one reference to it, but that single reference somehow cemented the title in my mind. Do you remember the film adaptation of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues? It starred Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walkin. There is an exchange between Eugene and Daisy as they first meet when Eugene tells her that Daisy is the name of his favourite character from literature. Flattered, she asks him if he is referring to Daisy Miller or Daisy Buchanan. I remember feeling overwhelmingly deficient at the time I heard this, having absolutely no idea as to the identity of either Daisy. I was only ten or twelve, far too young to really be expected to know either reference, but I didn’t know that at the time and felt dejected all the same. I resolved to get to the bottom of both references. Ten or so years later, here I am, and I have only just purchased the books last month. Daisy Miller is still sitting on the TBR pile, but at least it is in my possession, and with F. Scott Fitzgerald read, I am half way to my goal.
Nick Carraway is a well-to-do young man from out west who has moved to New York to take a position in the bond business. Nick settles on West Egg in Long Island Sound across the bay from a cousin of his, Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom. Not long after he moves in, Nick discovers that he is living next door to the rather colourful Jay Gatsby, bachelor, war veteran and all around eccentric. Every night, Gatsby throws lavish parties to which absolutely no one is invited. Somehow, though, people, the vast majority of them complete strangers, end up there in droves. Having received a personal invitation from his nutty neighbour, Nick attends one of the parties to find out what all the fuss is about. Gatsby quickly befriends Nick only to reveal that he is in fact using him to get to Daisy, whom Gatsby has met before.
This story is terribly hard to summarize; it is only 115 pages, so I can’t give away much of the plot without spoiling it. Mind you, I’m not sure who’s left to spoil it for, it seems I am the last person to get around to reading it. The Great Gatsby is a story of love, loss, adultery, manslaughter and so much more. It is a candid and somewhat scathing expose of the Roaring Twenties.
I’m sorry! This is turning out to be a pitiful review. I just don’t seem to be able to articulate how I feel about this book. Maybe it just wasn’t long enough. I liked the book, I really did. It is difficult for me to find classics that appeal to me, but The Great Gatsby is one I would probably read again.