Consider yourselves warned, people: I will do my best to avoid spoilers but what kind of book club would we be if we didn’t talk about the book! Also, my review may be considerably longer than Hannah’s since I liked The Great Gatsby! I enjoyed reading it. It didn’t feel like a chore or an assignment, as classics often do for most people.
The first thing I noticed about the book was the language. From beginning to end, the language Fitzgerald uses is captivating and descriptive almost to the point of overkill. Almost, but not quite. I think the best word to describe it is “fluffy.” His descriptions are much like a bed full of throw pillows; they’re altogether unnecessary and they provide no essential function, but boy howdy, do they make the final presentation significantly better. Fitzgerald is a writer who wants his readers to truly experience things with the characters in the book. The way he described Jay Gatsby’s smile and Daisy Buchanan’s voice was something I had never read, heard, nor experienced but still had no trouble understanding and imagining through the eyes of Nick Carraway, the narrator.
Fitzgerald gives readers extremely vivid descriptions of nearly all his characters. The story is told from Nick Carraway’s point of view so readers share Nick’s feelings of excitement and high expectations at his first meeting with Gatsby, as well as the disappointment when we find out that Gatsby is not the grandiose and sophisticated person we expected him to be. We all know men like Tom Buchanan, haughty and overly emphatic in his masculinity, who inevitably marry the fragile yet undeniably appealing Daisy Buchanan’s of the world. Jay Gatsby is obviously the focal character of the book and I found him to be a huge disappointment, which I believe to have been the intent of Fitzgerald. Clearly the best famous part of the book is the elaborate party scene that takes place at Gatsby’s house. If for no other reason, everyone should read these books to experience some sort of second-hand invitation to partly like Gatsby
The other notable characteristic of Fitzgerald’s writing style was the almost “drive-by shooting”-esque insertion of seemingly incredibly significant revelations or statements at completely unexpected moments, and then never mentioning them again. I can just imagine that innumerable college students have written dissertations on the significance of Daisy’s “I’ve never seen such – such beautiful shirts before” meltdown, or Nick’s “I just remembered that today’s my birthday” revelation in the midst of the life-altering climactic fight between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan. I feel quite sure that Fitzgerald meant for there to be some hidden meaning behind Daisy’s uncontrollable sobs into Gatsby’s pile of fancy & expensive shirts, but he never elaborated. It was never mentioned again. Such a strange moment in the storyline, and yet, he leaves it up to readers to decipher the significance of such an unexpected occurrence.
Overall, like I said, I did like the book. I also thought that ending seemed rushed and forced, as if he spent all his time developing a decadent and intertwined story but couldn’t figure out how bring about the resolution of an ending. But I guess even that makes sense in the context of Gatsby’s life. He spent so much time and so many years building up to this moment he had always imagined in his head and once it come to pass, the resolution of the event itself paled in comparison to what he had built up in his imagination.
Favorite Quotes: “Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply–I was casually sorry, and then I forgot.” -Nick Carraway
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -Nick Carraway
“[…] one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anticlimax.” – Nick, again