Tuesday, April 22, 2014

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
Publication Date: April 10, 1925
Source: Book Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it at: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s—and his country’s—most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic 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—“ Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished office. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means—and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as a chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book, so this review is difficult for me to write. I mean, on the one hand, I loved the last few chapters of the book, when all the drama unfolds and we see people’s true characters come out, but on the other hand, I was extremely bored in the beginning half of the book, leaving without much to say about that.

Let’s start with the characters.. Of course, there’s James Gatz aka Jay Gatsby , Entertainer extraordinaire! He’s such an interesting man to all who encounter him and he’s either loved or hated by all. Interestingly enough, he’s a man that came from nowhere. What I mean by that is that he came from a low income background and with the help of a wealthy man, he was able to build himself up into "Gatsby." Of course, he always seemed to keep that hustler mentality he had as a young boy. He lied, cheated, and took action in a few non-legal activities here and there. His acts were all fueled by passion, a dream he had long ago that took a hold on him to become a wealthy man (by all means necessary) to gain back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan.

Then there is Nick Carraway, whose POV we see everything through. I liked Nick throughout the book. He seemed like a decent guy who just got caught up in Gatsby’s web of lies (and everything else!) I think he was smart enough to know Gatsby for what he was, a broken man trying to hustle his way into being something he would never be. And I totally love the fact that he was there for Gatsby in the end, when it really counted. Something that Gatsby could never repay.

Then there’s Daisy Buchanan. The love of Gatsby’s life. He met her when he was a young man, before he left for the war. Everything he does in his life is to win her back. In one sentence he sums up exactly what he feels about her: “Her voice is full of money…That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money – that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbal’s song of it…” Gatsby thought of Daisy as  money and beauty and held both of those things in high regards, so naturally he would do the same for her. But it was a fools mistake to love her as much as he did, because she was incredibly selfish and full of cowardice.

Now, let’s talk about Jordan Baker. For some reason people love, love love Jordan Baker and I honestly don’t fully understand why. She did not leave a lasting impression on me during or after reading the book and I can’t see why people loved her character so much. The admiral thing I notice about her is that she doesn't take any crap from anyone. She’s tough and unyielding, but not for anything of significance. Maybe I’m biased because the first half of the book was so incredibly boring to me that I can barely even remember all that I read. Did I miss something?

So overall, The Great Gatsby was not my favorite book ever written, but I do see the reason why it's considered a classic. Read on my friends!

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