THE BLURB (from Amazon)
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new–something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.
But anyway, I shall move ever forward and furnish you with what you came here for…..a slice of birthday cake! Yep, MedusaLBC is now 1 year old… awww! So to celebrate here’s a picture of me celebrating.
Now that I’ve calmed down, are we sitting comfortably? Yes? Well I’ll begin!
So, being the first MedusaLBC of the year everyone was up and at ‘em for the discussion. There was also a glut of new attendees which was brilliant, so we kicked of with a round of ‘Knowing me, Knowing you Ah Ha… so that’s your name’. With the pleasantries put to bed we kicked of with the book.
One of our regulars kicked of by talking about their first read through. It was when they was 15 years old and mainly because of teachers and absolutely loathed the book. Being young and idealistic, they just couldn’t agree with any of the themes that run through the book. Now though, after a few more read throughs they have come to love the book. They felt that it was maybe because they had become world weary, but they loved picking up the subtexts and how shocking the behavior of the women must have been in the 20’s. However, they found that the more read-through’s they did, the more they started to hate the narrator, starting to find him more unreliable as a voice of what was ‘really’ happening. Another member then mentioned that this was their third time of reading it and that the more they read it, the more they enjoyed and got out of it.
There were members who were reading the book for the first time (me included… shhhh yes I finished it jeesh!). A member talked how they loved the language used by Fitzgerald to create the descriptions and visuals of the world in the book. They had originally been worried that the hype surrounding an American classic would spoil the book through it not living up to what it was held up to be. It had taken them a while to get into the book as they had read it over Christmas while being ill and had struggled to start with, but as they got deeper into the book, the language dragged them into it and they started their enjoyment of the book their. However, they had a dislike for some of the characters. Daisy was the main one who they thought was awful, but there was a tinge of pity for her due to the way the husband character treats her throughout. The husband was another character the member disliked, with his treatment of all women, not just Daisy. They felt that he drops the mistress simply because she doesn’t look right in his world, and that he is incredibly manipulative. Many other members agreed with their
summation of the book that the writing style was very enjoyable, but the characters let it down.
We then moved onto discussion about the setting of the book, with one member commenting that they loved the atmosphere of the age depicted in the book, they didn’t like many of the characters either, but felt they were very much of the ‘age’ of the book. We discussed how it very much portrays our image of the jazz era, with the American dream and the ‘whiffs’ of the coming depression. It was also pointed out that if you look at the life of the author Fitzgerald the book, though no auto-biographical, it could be said it was written from experience of his destructive marriage.
Members then pointed out the speed of the book, it felt that it very much floated along with nothing much happening before ‘BANG’ everything happens all at once and it is left to the characters left to deal with the fallout. Even though it is somewhat of a short book, it was felt that you knew the characters. We moved onto discussing how this was the first classic of a readable length, and how many of the American classics are known for there brevity.
After imagining how much we would have loved to go to a Gatsby party to enjoy the glitz and glamour, we then moved onto the narrator, the character Nick. Many felt that there was a Gatsby-Nick subtext, and that Nick was a sexist character. He very much dismisses many women, with claims that any lady that rebuffed him after he made a pass on her was gay. His subtext with Gatsby is shown strongly in the fact that he seemed to care more for Gatsby then his apparent girlfriend Jordan, a character we felt was someone we shouldn’t like. Nick puts more effort into Gatsby’s funeral then he did at any time during his relationship with Jordan. Members felt that from Nick’s early descriptions of Gatsby that everyone very much loved him, but when we get to the end of the story it turns out that the only people who loved him was Nick and Gatsby’s father. It very much appeared that the people at the party were there only for the party and the prestige of status and not for its host. We then talked about
the attendees of the party, would Daisy have turned up? Many felt she would if her husband had not stopped her attending. We also felt the fact the drug guy turned up was very natural thing for him to do and understood why he had turned up. Gatsby’s dad was then discussed briefly, with many members having him as there favorite character. One of the regulars felt that he was a breath of fresh air and very real after a book of fluff, and that Gatsby’s funeral was a very sparse affair after a life of lushness.
We then started to question ourselves, would we have taken the blame for the accident? We felt that the character of Gatsby was built up as someone who would do anything for Daisy, with this shown in the description of the first kiss between Daisy and Gatsby, with Gatsby’s claim that he could have reached for the stars or do whatever it takes to be with Daisy. Some members were also under the impression that Daisy was very aware of what she was doing, and had she been portrayed too much as the victim by her friend Nick?
As we entered the last knockings of the meeting, we chatted about whom we felt Gatsby would have become if he hadn’t social climbed so he could be with Daisy, with shouts of a great engineer or banker.
There was then mention of a sequel which had been written by another author, and of the original film and the new Baz Lehrman effort which will probably be released when unicorn dna is found in beef lasagnas. As we drifted onto dreams and fantasies about Robert Redford and Leonardo diCaprio we were dragged back to earth to give our scores for the book and pick another choice.
So that was pretty much it for the first meeting of 2013, and I hand you back to our leader @leedsbookclub for the scores. TTFN!