May 16, 2013

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Last year, I made an attempt to read this book, but I put it down after just a couple of chapters. Not even a couple, I think. For some reason, the writing didn't engage me, and my mind wandered whenever I tried to digest the words. The desire to read it was there - legitimate, fervent - but it just wasn't enough to sustain my interest. I gave up and decided that, perhaps, I just wasn't ready for it yet. Another time, then. Anytime before the movie adaptation is released.


Fast forward to this year, and I learn that the movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring one of my favorite actors, will be shown this month. Choosing to forget how much I struggled reading this book during my first attempt, I decided to take the plunge: it’s May or never. ;)

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The Great Gatsby is actually a person: Jay Gatsby, who for the longest time has been pining away for the (lost) love of his life Daisy Buchanan, married to the athlete Tom. Their love story is narrated by Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin, whose modest house happens to be adjacent to the mansion owned by Gatsby – the mansion where he holds many a lavish party, to which an invite is a statement of one’s status in the 1920s New York society. And the parties and balls were part of a grand (and underhanded) plan to draw Daisy back into Gatsby’s arms – except for the little fact that she’s already married, and a few other glitches along the way.

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The Great Gatsby neither impressed nor turned me off. It was one of those books that I know I wouldn’t easily forget, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend, either. It was merely so-so. It was just… okay.

I sympathize with Gatsby’s predicament – it sucks not being able to be with the one you love, I think everyone knows how that feels – but I think he was also pathetic. Throwing parties and spending money as part of a scheme that would supposedly make Daisy notice – there is something terribly wrong and pompous in there. But then there’s Daisy herself: shallow, materialistic, inconsiderate and pretentious Daisy. Suddenly, Gatsby’s party-throwing scheme isn’t so pathetic anymore. In fact, the plan appears perfectly tailored for the kind of personality that Daisy has.




Possibly spoiler-y character map. Discretion advised. img src


Other than those observations, I could not conjure any more things worth mentioning about the book. The other characters – Tom, Daisy’s friend Jordan (with whom Nick had a bit of a thing going), and Nick himself – weren’t spectacular, either. Not that they were supposed to, I will concede. I am  merely stating that no particular character was made to shine – no, not even Gatsby, for me – no particular event affected me enough to stir emotions, and the climax and the resolutions felt a little bit contrived. To reiterate, it was just okay.

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I am still looking forward to the latest movie adaptation. The reviews are less than stellar, but I am not deterred.

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

Book Details: My own, trade paperback, bought from Fully Booked BHS
Rating: ★★★

6 comments:

angus25 said...

Bedsheet Love!

Okay, seriously, we have the same rating. It's not bad but it's not something that's fangirl material, no?

Monique said...

BUDDY: Yep. Looking forward to Leo-Gatsby! :D

Tin said...

Love the character map! And aside from the movie adaptation, I think they did have a broadway production of it too. Because it's glitzy and fabulous! Anyway, I am not big on classics. Hee. I tried Wuthering Heights last Feb. I gave up on it. I got all confused and bleary eyed. What you said in the first paragraph gave me hope. So I am not closing my doors on classics. Another time maybe. :D

Peter S. said...

Oh, goodness! Unlike you, I really enjoyed this novel. Fitzgerald's sense of mood is impeccable. Na-feel ko talaga na nasa Jazz Age ako. Hehehehehe.

I also love the tragic element. Great characters do fall greatly din. :-)

Monique said...

TIN: I know *exactly* how that feels. Hehe. Sometimes we just need to be in a certain mood before reading a particular genre, I guess. Especially if it's not something we're really used to reading. :)

PETER: Perhaps I will feel that jazzy mood when I see the movie? Hahaha! :)

BooksAndPanda said...

:D The character map is awesome! I forgot to bring my copy of The Great Gatsby and I can't wait to watch the movie. I think I have to skip reading book and watch it with friends this Sunday. Hope you did like the movie, Monique.