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Gatsby Confession

Way back when I was a moronic teenager, I read this book called The Great Gatsby by someone named F. Scott Fitzgerald. There were more important things going on in my life than the novel—like planning a spring break trip to Florida—so I didn’t really give a hoot about Gatsby and his money, Daisy and her drama, or towns named after eggs. A girl wrecked a car. Someone got shot. No one lived happily ever after. And I needed a new bikini.

Fast forward to yesterday when my TBFF (teacher best friend forever—one of them anyway) texted to see if I was going to see the movie Friday. Ambivalent, I said something akin to “if I have nothing better to do.” That was the wrong thing to say. And I quote:

I laughed because the diatribe was so heartfelt and quick, as is my friend, but then I got serious. As much as I love literature and teaching, perhaps it was a treasonous feeling to dislike Gatsby? Maybe all that was keeping me from being a better person and teacher was this book? So, I decided to reread it before going to see the movie—if not for my own gain then to appease my friend, who, ironically, is not an English teacher, and who, hilariously, has continued sending me power-snippets like this:

Hopefully by next week I’ll have a fresh perspective, and then won’t feel like a poser when I go drool over Leonardo DeCaprio—which I promise is not part of my conscious motivation.

Let me know if you’re re-reading it, too. If I still hate it, I’ll need the motivation.

Comments

  1. I’m re-visiting The Great Gatsby (read several times,the last in grad school- UVa, where I majored in American Literature) by listening to it (Audible, narrated by a famous actor whose name escapes me). The movie sounds dreadful in some ways, e.g. The New Yorker review by David Denby but if one knows all the snarky criticism AHEAD OF TIME and decides to transcend it, it might still be a movie worth going to. And I can’t resist ANYTHING with Leonardo DeCaprio. BTW- love your website!

    • I’ve heard polarized reviews from friends, too. Two say it was amazing, that the grandeur captures the essence of the novel. A few others stay its ostentation defeats the plot and that the characters are just too far from the book. Like you, I’m still going to re-read it though…because, again like you, I cannot resist Leonardo DeCaprio either!

      And thanks for the love! I just checked out your site, too, and I’ll be going back. :)

      • Hi, again-I just retired from being an elementary school librarian, where it was a joy to connect kids with books. Some of my young bibliophiles were amazingly voracious and sophisticated readers. Recently retired from the school to have more time to spend with my young grandchildren, to write and travel. I really miss the kiddos, however, especially fourth graders. After you and I see TGG, I look forward to comparing notes. I believe a major objection to this movie version is the craziness of the party scenes and using contemporary, not period, music. I think that artistic license can be justified. Another slant about which there was griping was a supposedly wrong use of Nick Carraway’s point of view. Hmmmm, we’ll see. Finally, thanks so much for going to blogs. Do return :)

        • I, too, have heard lots of grumbling about Nick. I have to get my act together and go see this movie! We’ll definitely compare notes.

          I bet you do miss the kids. After working with them for just my eight years, I don’t know what life would be like with any other clientele. However, I’m envious of the time you have to write and travel. It’s like I have so much energy at work and then when I get home, I cannot muster the mental strength to write a page. Just a page! That’s my goal, and I fail just about every day.

          Great to see you on here!

  2. Marla Williams says:

    Risha,

    I haven’t yet seen this film version of Gatsby, but plan to soon indulge in the visual and musical excess of Baz Luhrman’s vision. For me, The Great Gatsby was my “gateway” book in Honors English in high school circa 1991 that led me from a the joy of reading as a child to the love of adult literature. My love for this book is in part why I was an English major and became a writing professor. One thing I have discovered over the years is that there are a few of those transformative gems from my youth that I think are best left in the perfection of my imperfect memory. My best reading experiences as a teen were A Separate Peace, The Catcher in the Rye, The Stranger, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Great Gatsby. I went back to reread Salinger, and a little something was lost. It was like I was having a fight with myself through the whole book, wondering what about the book spoke to me back then, thinking about how it didn’t seem as magical as I had remembered. Ever since, I’ve been very hesitant to revisit some of those pivotal reads because I think I treasure my nostalgia for the characters over any kind of current or continued access to them.

    But I love a good tragedy, and I can say that you should listen to your TBFF and give Gatsby another chance. Do you have any of those books that are frozen in your memory and can’t/shouldn’t be touched?

    • Hi, Marla! I cannot believe that I have just now found your comment. It was lost in my spam box for some reason, and as I am just now settling from my cross-country move, I have just cleaned that box today! I am so sorry for that error.

      This year I will be reading Gatsby with my students, and I am waiting until closer to then to dive back into it. I am excited though, and I plan to really give it my all. I’m sure I’ll watch the film version with my students, too, and I’ll share that experience here for the camaraderie.

      Your question is intriguing: have I any books that can’t/shouldn’t be touched? And the answer is YES! Many of the books I loved in my childhood have made great film adaptations, but it is the books of my adulthood that I fear making it on the big screen. My two most recent favorite books–The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon–have both been made into movies and/or series, and for the life of me, I cannot bring myself to watch. I loved those books so much that I am afraid the movie will ruin what’s inside.

      This would be a great blog post, Marla! Thanks for the inspiration!

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