Monday, October 8, 2007

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

And so we revisit the official novel of high school English, the only F. Scott Fitzgerald most people will ever read. Does it live up to the hype? It's in the highest category of literature where no book can.

The novel concerns a number of extremely rich people, all of whom feel unloved and all of whom are unfulfilled. Through the eyes of Nick Carraway, the main character, we see these characters' destruction like a slow-motion, 180-page train wreck. To a limited degree, the reader is also sucked into this amoral morass.

I also note that there are some obvious similarities in the endings between this book and Sunset Boulevard, which was of course written later.

Fitzgerald was unquestionably a talented writer, and quite often his imagery and metaphors are excellent. However, here and there the reader gets the feeling that he's trying too hard, as sentences and phrases come across as stilted or contrived.

So what does The Great Gatsby do for us today? No real redemption occurs here for any of the characters (this is different from a happy ending; I'm not complaining because it doesn't have a happy ending). Certainly it is a cautionary tale against materialism, but no hope is ever presented for any of the characters.

I wanted to bump this to 4 stars/recommended, but I couldn't in good conscience do it.