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December Novel – The Great Gatsby

In my 40-by-40 quest to read a novel per month for 12 months, my novel for the month of December was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I planned on reading a different book in December, but I decided on The Great Gatsby after my failed attempt at completing Nanowrimo (click here for that story).  The main character in my Nanowrimo story was a high school history teacher who just taught a lesson on the 1920s, so my head was already full of the Jazz Age.

I’m pretty sure I must have read The Great Gatsby at some point in middle school or high school, but I can’t remember.  The Great Gatsby is touted as the closest thing we have to THE great American novel, and in choosing to read (or re-read) it now, I think my expectations were too high.  It’s not that I didn’t like it…in fact, I thought it was expertly written.  The story, and especially the characters and their behaviors, were all undeniably American, and Fitzgerald does a wonderful job capturing all of that in the novel.

I think my problem was that I could neither root for nor relate to any of the characters.  Everyone seemed very full of themselves (yes, even Nick Carraway at times), and I’ve never been a big fan of drama for drama’s sake.  The novel did a good job of portraying the idiosyncracies of the Jazz Age’s ridiculously wealthy, and I can imagine why it became so popular so soon after its publication.  But sitting here over 8 and a half decades later, I’m a bit weary of being exposed to stories of the irreparable consequences of the morally bankrupt wealthy people of our society.


One comment on “December Novel – The Great Gatsby

  1. Karen Peterson
    January 10, 2012

    I agree with you that it’s a hard story to “like” because there really isn’t anyone to root for. That’s exactly how I feel about one of the “greatest romances ever”: the deplorable Wuthering Heights.

    But what I really can appreciate about The Great Gatsby is just how multi-layered it really is. Not one character or scene is exactly what it seems on the surface.

    The Great Gatsby is brilliant for its writing, not for its likability.

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2012 by in 40 by 40, Book Reviews and tagged , .

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