Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby - Matthew J. Bruccoli, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Best thing about this book is the opening line:In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."


Reading on after this point should be a personal choice. Instead, this book is an assigned text, like a sordid rite of passage, that almost every high school student has to suffer go through. You could read on and enjoy the prose, as well as the rhythm in the prose (Fitzgerald was a talented prose writer), while ignoring character development and/or finding characterization both silly and amusing (Fitzgerald had a great idea; I just don't agree with his execution). Or you could choose not to read the book and your life wouldn't be any different than it is now. Assuming this book isn't assigned reading, that is. (If it's assigned reading, Wikipedia can solve that problem. You're not missing much.)


I suppose my reaction to this book is more of a reaction to all the wealthy, privileged, ignorant, out-of-touch-with-reality people I've met over the course of my life. Wealth, privilege, and entitlement let people get off easy, without a mark staining the rest of their lives. I think, in this instance, Fitzgerald conveyed this reality very well in the Buchanans.


But here's the thing.


I've spent much of my life dealing with people like the Buchanans and their friends, and I've also dealt with people like Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby. And I've found them all to be different facets of the same problem.


Therefore, I'd rather not spend any more of my time with such out of touch people, especially in fiction. I'd never willingly seek out books about them to enjoy during my time off. If I didn't mind them so much, I would've kept my first day job. The people--or rather, caricatures of people--whom I'd had to deal with while at this job were very much like Gatsby and friends: privileged and entitled and wealthy enough to not have to deal with actual problems on their own because, you know, they had people for that sort of thing.