REVIEW: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars (and only because Goodreads doesn’t allow me to give 0 stars), Genre: Classics, Pages: 180, Level: Intermediate

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

The timeless story of Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan is widely acknowledged to be the closest thing to the Great American Novel ever written.”

WARNING: THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW HOW THE BOOK ENDS, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW GATSBY’S BIG SECRET, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW.

But in all sincerity, it’s underwhelming…

My New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was to read or revisit the Classics. In the case of those I am to revisit, I want to see if a difference in age changes my opinion of a book. The Great Gatsby is the first of 2013. I decided to make this review a little different and record my reactions at different points in the book. In case you want to follow along, I am reading the Scribner 2004 version, ISBN 9780743273565.

Page 29

Oh my goodness this is so horribly boring. Please make it stop! No wonder high students don’t want to read this book. Why am I torturing myself? The mistress bought a dog; how exciting… NOT! “I have been drunk just twice in my life…” I wish I was drunk right now.

When Fitzgerald mentions the elevator boy, I thought maybe it was about to get good, like a cabana boy might add some heat in a romance or erotic novel. “Of course you may push my buttons.” Alas, he did not. He just got some straw and milk for the dog. Is it too late to change my resolution?

Page 61

I have finally met Gatsby and am still bored to tears. This is supposed to be possibly the greatest American novel ever written? How can I even question that with writing like:

Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply- I was casually sorry, and then I forgot.

I’m casually bored, and will probably forget what happened days after I finish reading the book, just like I did the first time I read it. Even when Tom gave Mrs. Wilson a bloody nose, I didn’t even care. Fitzgerald is obviously a good writer, but I just don’t care about any of the characters so far. They are boring. I really hope this changes soon because I am having a hard time getting through this book.

Page 128

He gave her an aluminum putter. Well I am just enthralled now. I understand this is a different generation and a different financial bracket than that with which I am accustomed, but seriously, where are the punches, the slaps, the hair pulling? This mistress is jealous because the husband is with his wife, even though it is not his wife but rather the golfer. The guy is angry because he thinks his wife is having an affair and his mistress is planning on moving. The wife is upset because her husband is having an affair but she is in love with someone else. They are all very knowledgeable but don’t say anything. Give me a telenovela over this any day!

Sadly, I don’t think anything could happen in the last 50 pages of this book that would redeem it for me. Except maybe a zombie apocalypse. Zombies make everything better. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing things like Pride, Prejudice and Zombies now, because someone finally realized these classics are so boring and needed a zombie or two to shape them up.

Done

The reader finally gets some action. Unfortunately, it took Fitzgerald 150 pages of lounging around the house to get there. I finally feel for Gatsby and Nick in the last ten pages. As far as the rest of them are concerned- they’re idiots and not even interesting idiots.

I don’t care what anyone says, people were not that boring back then. Hello! Didn’t anyone own books? Gatsby has a library. Obviously it was just for show. The only character who appreciated Gatsby’s library was coincidentally the only person who showed up for Gatsby’s funeral. Lesson: Don’t trust people who don’t read.

And Gatsby’s big secret is that he misrepresented himself as a rich man when he was courting Daisy? What a letdown. I can think of a dozen different scenarios that would have been better.

I looked up some discussion questions to see if I was missing something. Here are a few:

  • Quite frankly, I have never liked this book… or any of Fitzgerald’s novels. Why?
  • What statement might Fitzgerald be making about the mores or ethos of American culture- particularly the American Dream?
  • What is the meaning of the title? In what way is Gatsby great?
  • What makes The Great Gatsby a classic novel? Why has it maintained its place in American literature?

Quite frankly, the discussion questions are just as boring as the novel itself, with the exception of the first one. I just threw that in there because it made me laugh.

I wrote a general post titled BORING! High School Reading Lists dealing with required reading in school and The Great Gatsby appears on many high school lists; it did on mine. I don’t think this should be on high school reading lists for the simple fact that it will make kids hate reading. A friend and I were discussing this issue and she suggested that we have become desensitized. In a world where a cheating husband is run over, accidentally, nine times by his wife in a car and a woman murders someone for unfriending her on Facebook, the scandals in The Great Gatsby are barely memorable.

My husband had a very interesting observation. I told him that The Great Gatsby was completely predictable as well as cliché. He suggested maybe Fitzgerald created the cliché. Now that would be ironic- Fitzgerald creates a scenario that becomes so common that it is now cliché, thus making his Great American Novel passé. Bummer.

The only saving grace of this book is that it is less than 200 pages long. Happy reading!

Reviewed by Christina

One thought on “REVIEW: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Pingback: 2013 New Year’s Resolution « Book Expectations

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