Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’d never read The Great Gatsby, even though many people did at my high school (I was in the honors section, and we read Native Son instead). I’ve discovered that a lot of the books you read in high school are culturally important, so I reckon I should get through this one!

The Book

41iers2bhlslThe Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
1925
Amazon Link

If you didn’t want to buy this book, too bad – copyrights are still in place for books from the 1920’s. Thank Mickey Mouse for that. Unless the Almighty Mouse argues, though, this thing will enter the public domain in 2021, which is kind of cool I guess.

Either way, I listened to this on audiobook. The version I listened to had a narrator willing to do the voices, which was nice.

Non-Spoiler Review

Wat.

I don’t understand this book. I tried to listen to it, and I even had to repeat some chapters because I was certain more had to have happened. I feel like it was a pile of pages about awful people doing as close to nothing as possible, then whining about it. They complained so much, and none of them felt real to me. Then the “exciting” bits at the end happened, and I was just upset more people didn’t die.

By the end, I was so confused that I decided to read someone else’s interpretation of what this steaming pile of mess was about. It turns out I understood what sliver of a plot existed, but other people read a lot more into the themes. According to Wikipedia, the book was supposed to be about decadence, excess, and resistance to change. I guess I could see those themes, and it probably would come through clearer to someone who grew up middle or upper-middle class. To me it seemed just ridiculous that people live that way, but I suppose it may have been close enough to what some people have experienced.

Overall, what the f*ck was this? Why do we make our children read this frivolous circle jerk of a book? Gah, this is one of those times I feel like critics are wrong, but then I realize I don’t have a good enough education in literature to combat them…

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Honestly, I didn’t like Gatsby. I didn’t mind how he died at the end. I didn’t mind that Myrtle died either, though it was a little sadder. George’s death didn’t really make an impression on me at all. I really didn’t like, however, that Tom made it out unscathed. Screw that guy – he was terrible, possibly the worst of the whole bunch. I decided not to like him when he punched Myrtle early on, then I really hated him when he turned out to be an unforgiving hypocrite.

I hated reading this book.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Beloved, another Great American Novel! Can it possibly get worse?! Stay tuned!

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Great Gatsby

  1. AK says:

    I didn’t hate The Great Gatsby, but I can see how it would come off as a lot of frivolous crap with bloated prose. Gatsby isn’t exactly someone I can sympathize with much anyway. I’m not a romantic whatsoever, so I just don’t get him. To me, this novel is the logical conclusion of that old “follow your heart” piece of advice when it’s applied without consulting your brain.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I think Gatsby probably does have more “oomph” if you can feel more into it. And I can see what you say about “follow your heart” – perhaps if I’d held that in mind, it would have given me a different outlook on the book.

  2. Pink Roses says:

    Very interesting review. I read The Great Gatsby many years ago when I was going through an F Scott Fitzgerald phase. I enjoyed it, and his other novels but only in a light=hearted way. I don’t think he can be compared to Hemingway or the great Steinbeck. I have read Toni Morrison but not this particular book so I’m looking forward to your review next week.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I think a lot of people like “Great Gatsby”, and I’m totally fine with that. To be honest, I don’t “get” a lot of things normal people do. I don’t know why.

      I *loved* “Beloved”.

  3. Miriam Hurdle says:

    This book was mentioned in many books on writing and editing as it was a recommendation for good writing. I watched Leo’s movies for a while. I seem to watch movies by actors or actresses for a while. The movie was okay. It was just any drama. After seemingly recommendation from those books, I read, but couldn’t pass the first few chapters. I wonderful why it was recommended. I don’t know what the high school teachers say about that book since I didn’t go to high school here.

  4. trentpmcd says:

    I missed this in high school as well, so read it just a few years ago. I read it as a very scathing critique of America’s class system, particularly those who inherited money. He hated the idea of privilege. And I got the idea was that you were supposed to hate all of the characters. These were all children of privilege, and he had no use for them. Gatsby did rise up from nothing, so, not as bad as the children of privilege and did try to make a dent in the world, but he got his money by ill means, so not sympathetic at all. It was not my favorite book and I will never read it again, but I’m glad I broke down and read it.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Oh, yeah, definitely a scathing critique, and it shows the evils of inherited privilege. I hated literally everyone. I think that inability to connect with any of the characters made me dislike the book, but I can see where theme is probably the important elements.

      • trentpmcd says:

        I didn’t like any of the characters either, but there was a little sympathy for Gatsby. He sold himself – his honor, his dignity, his integrity and his soul – to try to gain the love of a woman who would always feel he is an inferior. His physical death was pretty much symbolic since she had already killed him.
        On the other hand, at about the same time Fitzgerald was writing this, my very poor grandfather fell in love with a very rich, from-old-money woman. She, unlike in Gatsby, chose love and being disinherited instead of a life of leisure. So these people from privilege weren’t all like the characters Fitzgerald created.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Haha, that could be interesting! To see it as a sort of “gossip column” for the rich and famous!

      I think the themes of this book is probably where it’s at (Trent pointed it out above, and I think he’s right). I just couldn’t get into it because I couldn’t connect to any of the characters.

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