Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I had never read the classic The Great Gatsby and I’ve been delaying watching any movie version of the story until I did sit down and read it. Unlike most of my other reviews, this one contains spoilers. I am just so disgusted by this story that I could not write anything that was neutral and spoiler-free.
Surprisingly, I read this novel much quicker than I thought I would. The pacing worked well. Fitzgerald camouflages most of his self-absorbed, superficial, and judgmental characters well in the first half of the story. Of course, I knew from popular references to the story that things would not end well, but I was hoping for some glimmer of hope.
The majority of this story focuses on Nick Carraway’s observations about his neighbor Jay Gatsby. Nick is the one dynamic character in this entire plot.
All of the other characters are such horrifyingly static characters void of any moral center. The most vile of these characters is Daisy Buchanan.
She is the beautiful, but brainless female seeking the Mrs. degree. She found her rich husband in the philandering Tom Buchanan. The fact that she is raising a child makes me sick. She is completely devoid of any conscience, proven when she runs over her husband’s lover, Myrtle, and leaves the scene of the accident. This working class woman is of no consequence to Daisy. Myrtle is just some commoner; her life worthless.
Then there’s Jordan Baker, the single version of Daisy, spending her time husband hunting. I was relieved when Nick Carraway escaped her advances. His decision to leave the heartless city and reconnect with the real people in his life actually creates a somewhat promising resolution to an otherwise depressing story.
This story overflows with the themes of excess consumerism, greed, and the death of the American Dream, which overwhelm me with melancholy. I may not like these themes, but Fitzgerald writes them beautifully and effectively. I am thoroughly and completely depressed and vexed.
At the very least, if I wish to extend this morose mood, I can now watch various film versions of the story.