It might seem strange to read this book later in life, considering that it is an American classic and it is practically mandatory for a high-schooler in that country to read. It never got my attention, not only because I was not born nor raised in United States, but the previews or an extremely rich party boy were not very attractive. I am also a big fan of Ernest Hemingway. In his book ‘A Moveable Fist’ he documents some encounters with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was not impressed. He described him as invasive and difficult to be with. They took a trip together to Lyon (France) that was a disaster. Fitzgerald had alcohol related problems and Hemingway used to say that his texts lacked some strength. However, the same Hemingway loved The Great Gatsby and confirmed him that it was the manuscript that was going to make him famous. It was published in 1925.
It was true, Eleanor Lanahan, Fitzgerald’s granddaughter says it all in her introduction to the book. After two autobiographical novels he decided to write something new. ‘Something extraordinary and beautiful and simple & intricately patterned’. After some drafts coming and going from him to his editor he succeed. By the mid-1960s his book was already in college curriculums. He and The Great Gatsby were famous. He did not live to see that, he died poor and infamous in 1940.
The story turned out to be fantastic. Fitzgerald focused in the quality of his writing and the construction of the characters more than adding pages to the book. Starting for Jay Gatsby. A very rich guy living in Long Island, set up endlessly and swanky parties designed to attract the attention of Daisy Buchanan, a married woman whom he happens to know for a long time. Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin, next door neighbour with Gatsby and acquaintance of Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband, is the narrator of the story. When the parties are not attracting Daisy’s presence, Gatsby pulls some strains to make Nick set up an encounter with her in his house. From that moment things move quickly. Gatsby manages to dazzle Daisy with his house and parties and we all fall in love with Gatsby and Daisy’s story, but when Tom gets in the middle and things start to get messy.
Tom Buchanan, a wealthy former football player, is arrogant unfaithful and aggressive. He has a lover that calls at the family house for when and how she wants. There is a lot of alcohol involved in the Buchanan family meals, usually shared with friends and never with their three-year-old daughter who walks by the house by her nanny’s hand. Tom do as he pleases and when he discovers his wife’s affair with Gatsby he doesn’t walk away but he acts with cruelty and intelligence to rip them apart.
The main and secondary characters get together at the end by a series of circumstances, toxic, deathly and destructive, all initiated by Tom, Daisy and Gatsby himself. At the end, they all loose people and things they loved, because Tom’s cruelty, Daisy’s lack of character and Gatsby’s naivety. It does not have a perfect happy ending, but it does have a perfect ending to all the events that happened in the book. It carries great lessons for life. It carries the reflexion from Nick Carraway to the roles of the characters that is magnificent.
It is amazing how in such a short story feelings like love, romance, deception, infidelity, ambition and jealousy are explode to its deepest ends. The description of the places, events and characters are delightful.
A 100% recommended book.