The farther I get from the moment I closed this book, the more it resonates. I could go back and leaf through the pages, look at the pages and passages that I’ve marked, and I am immediately brought back. And scenes change the more I read them. And, oddly, the scenes are more vivid in this revisiting. [A collaborative, interactive dimension to this particular reading experience that I hadn’t foreseen.] And sometimes, well, I’d just be minding my own business, and Nick Carraway’s words would filter in, or I’d see Daisy’s face in profile, and (weirdly) Gatsby’s shoulders.
It doesn’t take much to figure out that, hey, I love F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby. I loved it while I was reading it, and I now love it more because it sneaks up on me and just wrenches me.
It could be read as a novel of class, of how the roaring 20s — the Jazz Age, as Fitzgerald himself coined so — lived glamor, and especially anomie; ridiculously wealthy people with attitude problems and an atrocious lack of child-rearing abilities. Likable or not, these was how people lived then, at least this was how Nick Carraway showed us. In Matthew J. Bruccoli’s introduction to the “authorized” text, he writes: “The Great Gatsby does not proclaim the nobility of the human spirit; it is not politically correct; it does not reveal how to solve the problems of life; it delivers no fashionable or comforting messages. It is just a masterpiece.” And in my experience, I treated it as a masterpiece because of how Gatsby’s relationship with his ennui-stricken, much-married-to-a-douche Daisy exists, struggles, in this context. [How could I resist?]
He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.
And even then, it was not so much the love story of Gatsby and Daisy, but, well, primarily, Gatsby’s overwhelming [at times, misguided] love for Daisy.
He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously — eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
The kind of love that made me go, eventually, “C’mere, Gatsby, I’ll love you the way you want.” Creepy, I know. I was taken by how earnest Gatsby was, how fully in love he’d decided to be, no matter the consequences, no matter what lengths he had to take to convey that love. Imagine him holding extravagant parties, just in the hopes that his Daisy would wander in, intrigued by the noise and the bright lights. How tightly he held on to the past, and to the hope that the future would continue in the same vein.
As I went over to say goodbye I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man stores up in his ghostly heart.
As Carraway himself shouted to Gatsby across that ever-present yard: They’re a rotten crowd . . . You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together. I wholeheartedly agree. I could inflict violence on aforementioned rotten crowd, and I’ll be all-too-willing to whisk Jay Gatsby away.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.
Beautiful book, one difficult to write about. It just is, for me — this is how I can talk about right now. [Oh, affect, I like you.] We clicked, this book and I. And, well, I’ll just let it soak some more.
[Yes, I know that my copy of the book reads Eat Gatsby because of the price sticker from BookSale. It has amused me to no end, which tells you how immature I can be.] [I read the book for ReadHard, an awesome Tumblr-based book club run by awesome people. But it was an excuse, even a happy coincidence: Gatsby was one of those books that I just knew I would like.]