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The Great Gatsby


F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
average rating is 4 out of 5

Classics, Historical Fiction

R. Alex Jenkins

At the risk of coming across as an unrefined oink for not giving this classic five stars, I'm giving it four!

The Great Gatsby is superbly written in an ageless and easygoing style, as likeable and witty in a Bertie Wooster-ish way, with Gatsby himself an affable man who puts up with practically anything when people nosh down on his hospitality all the time, but there's also a lot of social commentary waffle about nothing in particular.

There's not much plot, but who cares, I suppose, when the writing's as good as this?

It's an important viewpoint. Craft over instant satisfaction, hence four gleaming stars.

The book is short and undemanding too.

But is this meritorious of being called the great, Great, GREAT Gatsby? Especially as it didn't grab my attention for long passages, and perhaps because of my extremely high expectations.

It rambles on a lot, prattles even as an entertaining preamble into the loves and lives of members of upper-class society and their essentially shallow relationships. Fickle, cheating, unreliable and dishonest.

It's the American dream of enjoying a wonderful life by achieving wealth, being beautiful or getting extremely lucky, perhaps through endeavour, by birth or clever association.

Maybe it needs to be absorbed in very small chunks to appreciate the writing brilliance instead of trying to dash through in search of an amazing story, perhaps as a mini lesson learned after trawling through Ulysses by James Joyce and how I learned (was forced actually) to approach it with a different mindset to avoid death by DNF. Torture that it was. Not that Gatsby is hellish or mammothly sprawling or anything like that, quite the opposite, but the way it needs to be read carefully as fine literature to extract full enjoyment from it.

I probably need to reevaluate and come back another day and I'm sure I will.

The biggest problem (problem?) was needing to take stock and question why I was reading it at times. Why is it still relevant?

Is there some type of weird inverse dystopia at play here?

Is life so glossy it means nothing much at all?

Am I taking away the wrong message, or is there any message at all?

As we walk into the sunset having been duped and tricked and falsely loved for mere moments, like a crane fly and it's fleeting 24-hour life expectancy. It teaches you the need to remain sociable no matter what and to live life for now instead of next week or year.

It's short-lived, sad and beautiful in that respect.

To express how you really feel instead of holding back.

That life is exactly that, life, and you might as well throw it to the wind and grab what you can. Plus a billion in the bank helps no end, old sport!

Even though you have no idea of what's going on in this book, the chats, rambling, flirting and partying, the urban landscape is described beautifully and it's a pleasure to bask in the literary beauty of the descriptions.

I'm not sure that's enough though.

I really don't know what to make of The Great Gatsby, other than it being a social commentary about rags to riches, the American dream at any cost, about betrayal, surely as a social viewpoint on how great America is if you're doing well and can party like it's 1999 all the time.

Society is unjust, with one man gulping down expensive beer while his counterpart lunges for the empty aluminium cans to sell per kilo.

Life is equally frivolous, shallow and pointless if you want to look at it that way.

Or did I miss something in a book about high-class blinging and banging?

Or maybe it's a giant love story and I missed that detail too?

Unrequited love, deceit and betrayal, is that what it's all about? The love of your life walks into it and suddenly disappears just as quickly.

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