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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

PseudoReview: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is the first in my grand effort to reread some of my all time favorite books this year. I have long referred to Gatsby as my favorite book despite the fact that, until very recently, I had not picked this slim volume up in over ten years. It was pure joy to be reacquainted with the novel and to find that it is still as wonderful as it was then. I am always so surprised when people confess that they do not enjoy this novel. The Great Gatsby is so good that it plays on your terms, whatever they may be. It never feels as complex as it is; the many metaphors are never overbearing. You may come to Gatsby as someone who studies literature or someone who simply enjoys it and the novel will deliver its ample gifts to you either way.

There are so many ways to read F. Scott Fitzgerald's master work that I am hesitant to review it. I am afraid I may alienate potential readers as many an English teacher has before. I feel that one of the reason I loved Gatsby so much in high school is that I read it without a guiding hand. I was allowed to take from it what I would and leave the read for discovering later. Going into the novel with such an attitude basically allowed the book to blow my mind. Finding the layers of meaning with each phrase and action on my own taught me that literature is a game played between reader and author. That game, that conversation, achieved between authors both living and dead is why I am a reader. Individuals that I have never met (or who have been dead for decades - centuries) are pushing at my mental boundaries with every new book I encounter.

Reading The Great Gatsby I realized for the first time how much books had to teach me - about history, life, myself. The experience is one that I value absolutely. So, I could tell you that the novel is a work of perfection, that every word was chosen with the utmost care, and I could explain that it is the embodiment of the diligence of the writing craft. But, I'd rather tell you that The Great Gatsby is my favorite book and F. Scott Fitzgerald moves me. I think that in this case those are the words you need to hear.

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