Maybe I am just too dull to understand all that transpired in this book because, to tell you the truth, I do not appreciate it that much. Not that it is downright horrible, because certainly it isn’t. Based on what I have read over the internet, The Great Gatsby is a required read among high school students in the US, so there must be something worth taking out from this book, although what these precious gems for thought are entirely missed me (by miles?) If I were American, maybe I might have liked this book more.
Having said that, I have been tempted to end this flimsy attempt at a review. However, after mulling over what I wrote while having dinner, I decided that yes, I can pick out and identify what I think I get from reading this very short book in 15 days. But first, a short overview.
The Great Gatsby is set in New York during the Jazz Age (yes, I just lifted that off from the back cover blurb) and is a story about wealthy Jay Gatsby and how he took great attempts to rekindle his romance with Daisy Buchanan whom he met five years ago. Told in the first person, Nick Carraway narrates the events that transpired from the time he rented a house next to Mr. Gatsby until the time he got involved with the complicated affairs of the man and Daisy (who happens to be his distant cousin), and Daisy’s husband, Tom.
The first half of the book entirely bored me, I do not get at all the musings and activities of Nick Carraway. I cannot get into his character. I keep thinking, I can’t see any point of these at all. Maybe, his perspective as an observer of events are not that interesting? Is he even that reliable at all? And then there’s Tom Buchanan and his arrogant ways. What is more, the self-absorbing Daisy Buchanan completely turned me off. I really don’t understand what it is that Jay Gatsby sees in her that he has to actually buy a towering mansion a river across her and hold lavish parties so that he can woe her back to him.
However, when I got past the first half (yes, I trudged on because I believe that there must be something worth in this book; it won’t be a required read in America for nothing), I was able to little by little understand the reason behind all the efforts of Jay Gatsby to hold on to his dream which is having Daisy back. I am more than affected, though, by the lives of George and Myrtle Wilson and how the complications of their characters give more meaning to this seemingly simple book.
Why the “Great” Gatsby? What makes him “great”? Is it because of his imposing mansion and the infamous parties he throws where people from near and far look forward to? Is it of the people he associate with and the “friends” he will eventually have? Is it because of his efforts to amass the wealth he possesses through his own willpower and ambition? Ah, but I love the social insights Mr. Fitzgerald throw in this book, especially his views on what love and friendship and marriage is among the upper crust of American society.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Again, had I been an American, I might have understood this book more. Or maybe, if I were rich and famous. But, alas, I am not. (I still want to watch the movie adaptation, though, just because of Leonardo DiCaprio. )
31/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.
3/4 Required Reading: August