book reviews, books, Uncategorized

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

 

“They’re a rotten crowd’, I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

Every man has a Daisy Buchanan and every woman has a John Buchanan or a Gatsby. This slim book manages to evoke a palpable sense of loss and tragedy within it. There’s always been a connection between hedonism and melancholy, a dread of what happens when the party stops is oftentimes what keeps people partying past the point that they should go home and have a glass of water and a good night’s sleep.

It’s a beautiful book, unsparing in the observations, the minor key tragedies of life amongst the bright young things of the early twentieth century. Gatsby is a wonderful character, shown through the perceptions of others and revealed to have a wound at his core that he can never heal, although he damns himself trying.

Fitzgerald does not lead us to conclusions, he allows you to see for yourself that sometimes you can waste your love on the wrong person, that some unhappy marriages happen as much by design as by accident and when Jay emerges, a single paragraph makes you love him.

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

It’s a beautiful book, that stayed with me for a long time afterwards. The best writing does that, reaches inside you and makes you hurt a little, reminds you that the pain and the loss is a way of knowing that you are alive. Forgive me, but I have to share the last line with you because it is really really gorgeous and sweet and sad all at once.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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