The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

There were a number of reasons that generated excitement as I contemplated reading The Great Gatsby:
– A number of people have told me that it is their favorite book.
– It is less than 150 pages.
– It didn’t involve stream-of-consciousness type writing.

Given this background, and my innate and inarticulate sense that it was my kind of book, I was excited to be able tackle an American Classic and one of the greatest novels ever.

Having finished it, however, I must say that it left me pleased but not awe struck. I will freely admit that the prose is elegant and seems to truly capture the unique feeling of the 1920’s. I understand the underlying tragedy; the gulf between Daisy and Gatsby that even money can’t bridge, etc. Intellectually I could appreciate it for what it was but emotionally it just didn’t have the punch I expected.

Perhaps I am guilty of what Jen Crispin warns against:

Now this is a book to read slowly, which is difficult to do as it is so short and the temptation to race through it is overwhelming. (Especially if you do most of your reading, as I do, sitting in a chair facing a wall of unread and accusatory books.) However if you don’t read it slowly, you’ll regret it, as it will all race by far too quickly, you’ll be left wanting more, and the only thing to do for it will be to read it again.

As it happens I am guilty of this sin all too often. As I have remarked before, I find myself pushing to get to the end of the book rather than enjoying and understanding it. So mark me guilty as charged.

The best thing about Gatsby, however, is that its brevity and accessibility makes it much easier to do what Jen has pledged to do: read it again. I too will read the book again, and this time try to take it slow and enjoy the work more The Great Gatsbyfully. I will report back when I have.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).