Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: The Great Gatsby

Like a lot of people, I don't read many classics. Classics are books we remember fondly (or maybe not so fondly) from high school -- not ones we actually take time to read as adults. Of the more than four hundred novels I've read in the past twenty years, only six were drawn from the Modern Library's celebrated Top 100.

Prompted by my community's Big Read program, however, I recently revisited No. 2 on the Modern Library's list: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless portrait of the Jazz Age. What I found was a book that has held up well since it was published in 1925 and still contains relevant messages for modern society.

In what is considered his greatest work, Fitzgerald introduces readers to the young, enigmatic Jay Gatsby, a self-made man who has everything but the one thing he wants: socialite Daisy Buchanan, the wife of fellow Long Island millionaire Tom Buchanan.

Told from the perspective of Nick Carraway, a young bond salesman who serves as sort of a middleman between his neighbor Gatsby and his second cousin Daisy, The Great Gatsby grabbed my attention from the first page and never let go. Fitzgerald's portrayal of prosperity, greed, arrogance, and recklessness is without peer.

To augment my enjoyment of the novel, I listened to the unabridged audiobook, read by actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and watched the recently released movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Both were excellent but were no substitute for the text. Fitzgerald's haunting prose still resonates and probably will for another century. Rating: 5/5.

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