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Book 11

  1. Stone, Irving — The Agony and the Ecstasy (439 of 763 pages)
  2. Morpurgo, Michael — The Mozart Question (68 pages)
  3. Unsworth, Barry — Stone Virgin (312 pages)
  4. Phillips, Caryl — The Nature of Blood (212 pages)
  5. Howard, Robert E. — The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (549 pages)
  6. Lockwood, Richard & Steve Potz-Rayner — A Little Book of Lies (170 pages)
  7. Vickers, Hugh — Great Operatic Disasters (65 pages)
  8. Howard, Robert E. — The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon (574 pages)
  9. Rennison, Nick — 100 Must-Read Classic Novels (164 pages)
  10. Augustine of Hippo (John K. Ryan, translator) — The Confessions of Saint Augustine (422 pages)
  11. Fitzgerald, F. Scott — The Great Gatsby (146 pages)
Page count
book cover: The Great Gatsby.

Yes, I have read Gatsby before. At least once, if not twice — but not, I think, when it was actually assigned to me (as to most American students) in high school. However, it's probably been 15 years or so since I last read it, and a new movie was coming out. That's right, I re-read Gatsby solely to refresh my memory in anticipation of the new movie.

What can I say? Actually, here's a little nugget you may not have heard before: This is a great book. One of the best ever written, in fact. I know, shocking, isn't it?

Can you think of another novel that has such memorable opening and closing lines? And such captivating symbols as the green light and Doctor T. J. Eckleburg's eyes?

I've also seen the classic 1974 Robert Redford movie before, but I wanted to watch it again before treating myself to Baz Luhrmann's adaptation. I was shocked when I found out my hair stylist had no clue who Robert Redford is. I mean Robert Mother Fuckin' Redford!?! (Not to be confused with Samuel L. M.F. Jackson.) What has the world come to???

I know it received mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed the new Gatsby flick, with all its glorious anachronisms. But then, I suppose I'm partial to Baz Luhrmann's œuvre. It was sensationalist and over the top, as Luhrmann always is, but reportedly so were the Roarin' Twenties. Both films captured the spirit of Fitzgerald's novel, or perhaps different aspects of it. Perhaps the new film better captures the energy; the old, the nuances and intricacies. As much as I enjoyed the new film, one thing was clear: Robert Redford was the quintessential Gatsby. Sorry Leonardo, you're no Redford! And that's no slight to DiCaprio. Redford was simply perfect as Gatsby, perhaps his defining role.

Not that this has anything to do with what I thought of the novel, but then I'd be like a boat beating against the current if I tried to say anything original about The Great Gatsby.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2013 12:54 am (UTC)
I have a shortlist of things that are constantly hyped, but that actually live up to said hype:

1. The Grand Canyon
2. Casablanca
3. Cherry blossoms in Japan
4. The Great Gatsby

There are others, I'm sure, but I think I've made my point. There's no need to say new things about Gatsby; simply adding our voices to the chorus of those who appreciate its beauty and genius is about all any of us can do.
Jun. 20th, 2013 06:53 am (UTC)
Agreed, and happy birthday!
Jun. 20th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
Andy had NEVER read this (he skipped a lot of high school that he wasn't interested in, but he was also living in Chicago so it might not have been in the curriculum). I made him read it a couple years ago -- I gave him my high school copy which is annotated in colored pens. I actually loved it when I first read it! My high school paper was about how the way each character drives is relevant to interpreting their character. My teacher was impressed; this had never occurred to her. It's a subtle thing, but it's totally there.

I do plan on reading it again, but AFTER I go see the movie. I've been ambivalent but I know exactly what to expect from Luhrmann, and I recently heard a good review from someone I trust... now I just have to make the time to go see it.
Jun. 20th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
How could it not have been part of the curriculum? One of the top 5 American novels, and several of the characters are from Chicago or Wisconsin.

I never picked up on the driving. Aside from Daisy and the drunk guy after one of the parties, I can't think of how they drive right now. Do tell.

Am I not trustworthy? ;)

Edited at 2013-06-20 10:40 pm (UTC)
Jun. 20th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
You almost never review movies that I have seen, so it's hard to tell if our tastes are similar! I have a high school friend who is now a professional reviewer, and the benefit of that is I KNOW what he likes, so I can read between the lines to see if *I* might like something that he didn't (often, yes). In this case, my favorite podcast (OverThinking It) reviews pop culture regularly, and I had a good sense of which reviewers will be useful for me to listen to. Plus, I hated Moulin Rouge, so anyone who hated that but enjoyed Gatsby... that's a helpful review for me to listen to.

I actually emailed a friend some of my old high school papers last week, so I will see if I can find the Gatsby one!! I have, apparently, done a good job of hanging onto my old digital papers.

Andy says: it could've been in one of the classes he didn't take, but it was never an assigned book for him. He took American Lit, and all required English classes through Senior year, and he never read it. (I don't recall if I said that Andy's middle school & high school years were entirely in Chicago.)
Andy says they read a LOT more African American authors. I read Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, but I think that was pretty unusual (I had interesting teachers). Andy says that he didn't read Richard Wright (which is CRAZY because Native Son takes place in Chicago) but that he heard other people talking about it a lot. The Great Gatsby was just not on the radar at all, it seems.
Jun. 21st, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
The African American authors weren't part of my high school curriculum. I can't recall any of their novels I read then. I still haven't read any Richard Wright and didn't discover Zora Neale Hurston until I'd moved to London.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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