My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ll admit the only reason I picked up this book to read was after watching the ostentatious movie adaptation by Baz Luhrmann. The story set in a continent in an era which isn’t very familiar to me did put me off initially. However I’m glad I decided to read this classic after all.
The first person narrative is without a doubt the highlight of this book with Nick Carraway’s observation forming the entirety of the story telling. The book is as much as about Carraway as it is about Gatsby.
Through Nick we traverse the diverse landscape of America from the mundane and boring Mid-West to the Ultra Jazzy and exciting East. His daily routine describes how Americans lived during the age of excess – long commutes from lavish country homes to the boisterous metropolis of New York working in high paying Wall Street jobs. His extended family, viz his cousin’s lifestyle provides a glimpse of how old money lived and how new money – Gatsby, was looked down upon by them.
The book isn’t just about the humans but also about their environment. It’s a great insight into the heart of a country that was just coming out of a world war and reaping the rewards of victory. The contrast of the Long Island landscape against that of Manhattan as well as the purgatory-like region in between is brilliant.
This book was written at a time when language and prose meant something. When the use of fancy words was not a fad but the norm. Reading this book is a delight for those who enjoy such rich prose albeit it can get a tad confusing and a re-read is called for. It’s no wonder this classic is a staple for most middle and high school reading courses.
If you enjoy good writing, simple stories but rich complex interpretations of text, this is your book. At 180 pages it’s an absolute quick read.