April Reads: THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

No one ever knew who Gatsby was.

Some said he had been a German spy, others that he was related to one of Europe’s royal families. Nearly everyone took advantage of his fabulous hospitality. And it was fabulous. In his superb Long Island home he gave the most amazing parties, and not the least remarkable thing about them was that few people could recognize their host. He seemed to be a man without a background, without history; whose eyes were always searching the glitter and razzamatazz for something… someone?

(Goodreads)

I’m gonna be honest here: I didn’t really like this book.

I can recognize that Fitzgerald is undoubtedly a good author. Stylistically, his writing was amazing; despite other misgivings, I was captivated by the book all the same. But as for everything else, well, the best word I can use is hollow.

The world, though beautiful, felt empty and completely lonely. I understand this to a point; Fitzgerald was trying to illustrate how meaningless the lives of those on East Egg are. But with the way he portrayed it, I found it hard to sympathize with any of the characters; I hated Tom, pitied Daisy, and never truly connected with Gatsby. If anything, I felt sad for him, and at times, disgusted (more on that later). Even Nick, the ‘good’ narrator, seemed to be trying to posit himself as ‘above’ the vapid East Eggers; at times, he even seemed as haughty and disdainful as Tom.

Again, I understand what Fitzgerald was trying to do; but reaching it to the extent he did made THE GREAT GATSBY seem bleak. I left the book feeling a little sad, if anything. Other books have left me feeling a similar way (though usually much more powerfully), but unlike most of those books, GREAT GATSBY taught me nothing. I pitied the characters. That was it.

As a main character and the main love interest, Gatsby felt two-dimensional. He was grand and splendid, but past the opulence, he fell apart. He was predictable, and, if I’m honest, too heavy handed. His love for Daisy seemed over-the-top throughout most of the book. The only time I actually connected with him was when he first met Daisy again in Nick’s house and he’s described as glowing. That felt real, and even a little cute.

But the rest, honestly, seemed kind of creepy. It had been what, five years? He does all this stuff to try and impress her—buying the biggest house he can find (directly opposite the lake from her house, mind), throwing extravagant parties, and then, after meeting her, offering to buy her all these expensive things. He even stares at the green light at the end of her dock every night, which is… kind of stalker-ish? Then, when he meets her, he automatically assumes she’s going to throw away her life and start a new one with him (never mind the fact that she has a husband and a child). It seemed like Gatsby never really saw Daisy, only the five-year-old image he had in his head of her, and tried to make her into that image. He couldn’t understand that she had changed. And that’s dangerous.

What did you think of THE GREAT GATSBY?

april reads #amreading the great gatsby f scott fitzgerald classic literature classics book books recommendation recommendations blog blogger pin pinterest

March’s recommendation can be found here.

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