by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read by Tim Robbins
borrowed from the library
I don’t know how I escaped reading this book while in school, but I am pretty bummed that I did. I think I would have enjoyed the discussions had about it. I am trying to read a classic here and there, to force my brain to think a bit more, so I grabbed this audio book from the library. The book has been on my shelf awhile and I at least wanted to understand the story, as I simply can’t get much more out of the audio. Listening is great, but I can’t fully appreciate the descriptions as my mind will wander while listening and driving (and possibly chewing gum or sipping coffee).
Most of you know the story, Gatsby fell in love with Daisy five years before, he has finally earned enough money to be worthy of her and is now trying to reconnect. Unfortunately she is married to a wealthy man who has been cheating on her. Gatsby through Nick, his neighbor and the narrator, arranges a meet. Stuff happens. If you see the trailer for the new movie with DiCaprio – lots of stuff happens! Woo boy. Well, it isn’t quite that wild in the book. The first part of the book had me laughing, I found Nick’s tongue in cheek humor funny and enjoyable. The book doesn’t stay funny, things get serious…but perhaps I missed further jibes by not reading the words? I don’t know.
I think, and I haven’t read any essays on Gatsby, that Fitzgerald was juxtaposing the self-made man against old money, or rather people who didn’t have to earn their money, power or position. At the end he calls Daisy and her husband Tom “careless”. They didn’t think about how their actions affected other people and didn’t accept responsibility of the repercussions. In fact, Tom directly shoves his problems toward Gatsby, knowing what would happen, and feels absolutely justified at the end. It is also possibly a west vs east mentality thing. Nick calls himself and Gatsby westerners. Both of them accept responsibility and have strong work ethics while those easterners don’t. I think the idea was that most self-made men had to travel west to find their fortunes, you know, “Go west, young man”. Am I making things up? Someone set me straight if you disagree.
Also, it is during the roaring 20s and everything wonderful was defined by excess. The parties were huge and the drinking nonstop. Gatsby throws impromptu parties weekly and in effect builds a web and tries to catch Daisy in it by hoping she will eventually show up at one. When that doesn’t work, he befriends Nick. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to truly befriend anyone else.
As for the audio book, Tim Robbins was absolutely amazing. He did a top notch performance with voices and accents for each character. You heard the slushy drunk, the Long Island accent, brash, harsh, quiet and demure. It was awesome. My only problem was I listened in the car and when a character whispered I turned up the volume and suddenly I was louder than the cars around me. It was a little embarrassing when my windows were down and I pulled up to a stop. Oh well, it was fun.
I give the book 4 stars. I now need to read the words. Hopefully I get to it soon, as I think I will need to forget some of it to enjoy what they do to the movie! (Jaded I know, but I can’t help it!)