Great Gatsby (Review)

Labels: Great Works

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The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
143 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January 2009

Confession time. I don't really like The Great Gatsby. But I think I'm alone in the universe on this—and it's for that reason that I'm recommending it as this month's Great Work.

Critics have long considered The Great Gatsby one of the quintessential American novels because it is bound up in the uniquely American myth of self-identity.

Unbound by blood lines, family lineage, caste, or religion—Americans are free to self-invent—to overcome the past and forge a personal future. Or so the myth goes. It is Jay Gatsby's fate to test that myth.

Gatsby is also a love story between poor Jay and wealthy Daisy, who met and fell in love during the World War I. Daisy eventually married within her class, but Jay, years later, rises (through unspecified, nefarious means), purchases a mansion across the bay, and attempts to win Daisy back—thus, setting in motion a tragedy.

The book is also seen as a coming-of-age story, in which Nick Carroway, the young narrator, witnesses the eventual destruction that lays about his feet and returns to his home in the Midwest— with a wiser if not jaundiced view of humanity.

I think it would be terrific fun for a club to read Gatsby first, then read Joseph O'Neill's Netherland. Or read Chris Bohjalian's 2007 book Double Bind, a wild, crazy "sequel" to Gatsby. I think Netherland (above) is by far the better read, but many book clubs adore Double Bind

See our Reading Guide for The Great Gatsby.

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