It took me about 2 and a half months to wade my through Dante’s The Divine Comedy – and only four days of commuting to finish off The Great Gatsby. After the tome of a book that was my previous read I was looking for a shorter read that was a bit more in my ballpark. After talking with someone at work I figured that The Great Gatsby would make for a good next read.
Going into this I have never seen any adaptation of this story, so I had no idea about what was going to happen. In fact the only real clue I had to this was a comment from my mum about the character of Daisy being incredibly shallow; to be fair that is something that could be said about pretty much every character in this book.
According to A List of Books this is the most acclaimed book of all time. While I really enjoyed reading this and became so engrossed in it I have one thing that’s really stuck with me… the ending feels rather rushed. In the penultimate chapter everything comes to a head spectacularly with Fitzgerald knotting every single plot thread and distantly-related character together. It’s a brilliant chapter that warrants an immediate re-read. The final chapter, however, feels a little bit rushed and half-baked; maybe that’s the point since, like the characters of Tom and Daisy, it’s fairly superficial and it pretty much abandons the story the moment it gets heavy.
Unlike a lot of people I really liked the characters I was reading. Yes, they are all shallow and frivolous (minus the narrator). Yes, it is fairly sickening how they are able to throw money at problems to make them go away. However, none of them are particularly happy. In fact, it could be argued that the only show of true happiness is by Mr Wilson fairly early in the book. The fact that is incredibly short-lived speaks to his connections to these awful people.
In a way The Great Gatsby was fascinating to me in the way that the documentary film The Queen of Versailles was. The descriptions are beautiful and colourful but, in the end, it is hard to be jealous of a group of unhappy rich people whose lives are falling apart. The fact that the narrator is able to escape that life in the end is a relief since you do become rather attached to his ever waning optimism. I hope that in the world of fiction he was able to find some happiness.