Monday 11 April 2011

CBR3 Book 27: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Page count: 177 pages
Rating: 1 star
Date begun: April 7th, 2011
Date finished: April 10th, 2011

I try to read at least one literary classic as part of Cannonball every year, and knowing that The Great Gatsby was at least fairly short, it seemed like a good choice. I am also a huge fan of the web comics of Kate Beaton, and wanted to understand brilliant strips like these on all the levels that Ms. Beaton clearly intended.

Normally, 177 pages would be a breeze, especially considering that the period in which I read them included a weekend. The Great Gatsby, however was quite a slog, and the only reason I finished it at all was stubbornness and that fact that I refused to let a novel of less than 200 pages beat me.

The plot is narrated by Nick Carraway, whose settled in the East (Long Island, working in New York) to make money from bonds. The book is set in 1922, and Carraway narrates the story of his distant cousin Daisy Buchanan, her oafish husband Tom, his mysterious neighbour Jay Gatsby, and the rather complicated connections between them. The majority of the characters in the book are unfaithful, and absolutely everyone in it are deeply dislikable. This is the main reason I had such a hard time getting through the book, despite its relative shortness. Carraway is smug and self satisfied, Tom Buchanan is a brute and a fascist, Daisy is a cold-hearted and narcissistic ninny and Jay Gatsby is pitiful and pathetic, hoping to buy both friendship and love.

My husband claims that I just don't get why the book is great, and that Fitzgerald brilliantly captures a period in time with precision and excellent language. That I can't appreciate art for its own sake. When it comes to books, I simply cannot enjoy a book, no matter how beautifully written, if I can't engage with a single character in it. It's the reason I hate greatly acclaimed novels like Wuthering Heights, Atonement, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and now, The Great Gatsby. I do however, find the Kate Beaton comic, even funnier, so that's something. I can also cross the book off as read on all those "Greatest Books of the 20th Century" lists.

1 comment:

  1. That's a shame.. We have very different tastes it seems - my all-time-favourite book is Wuthering Heights and I also absolutely loved The Great Gatsby and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I haven't read Atonement, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

    I do know what you mean though, about the importance of being able to connect and empathise with the characters in books... at the moment I'm reading 'We need to Talk about Kevin' and I'm finding it really hard to like the narrator, Eva - which is making the book a bit of a hard slog.