I re-read Gatsby as the Inaugural title of my book club, Books & Booze. It also fit the bill for one of the tasks (#13, a romance [albeit doooomedI re-read Gatsby as the Inaugural title of my book club, Books & Booze. It also fit the bill for one of the tasks (#13, a romance [albeit doooomed]) for the 2015 BookRiot Read Harder Challenge (see below).
I expected to like Gatsby better the second time around, what with the additional 35 years of life experience under my belt since the last (and first) time I read it. I remember very little about that mandatory reading experience, but I probably liked it pretty well, seeing as how I was that nerd girl that took extra English classes as electives while my peers signed up for art classes, or free periods, or just smoked out back. Me, I got my jollies reading everything. Still do. So I figured I'd be all over this novel about the American Dream, excess, and ... But... Just, meh.
I know, I know: it's a "masterpiece". The language is "beautiful". It captures America. Yeah, yeah, I read So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures*, now I know why I'm supposed to like Gatsby. But I just didn't find the language to be as gorgeous as it's purported to be (spare? yes. occasionally evocative? yes. gorgeous? not really.) The 51-year old me only 'liked' it, not 'loved' it, same as the 16-year old me. I get it more now, but don't like it more. But that's O.K. You don't have to love everything you read in order to be glad you've read it (or re-read it). The Great Gatsby is part of the fabric of our culture, and I'm glad that I now have a richer connection to that communal zeitgeist.
I'll also confess that there was something new that I discovered this time around that I do really like: Maureen Corrigan, in So We Read On, pointed out some of the myriad other interpretations of the text, including as hard-boiled noir novel and as homoerotic love story. These layers and alternative readings are the inducements that might inspire me to re-read Gatsby once again after a few more decades of life experience have accumulated.
(*Note: My review of So We Read On can be found here. -----
Prior to cracking its spine, my only knowledge concerning Wide Sargasso Sea were two facts: the provenance of the story (it is a 'prequel' to CharlottPrior to cracking its spine, my only knowledge concerning Wide Sargasso Sea were two facts: the provenance of the story (it is a 'prequel' to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in that it offers a back-story for Mr. Rochester's first wife, Bertha Antoinette Cosway, aka 'the madwoman in the attic') and its almost universally positive critical reception (it is included on many top 100 lists, including the Modern Library's and Radcliffe College's).
So I picked it up because I just read Jane Eyre for the first time, and because I wanted a challenge. I wasn't prepared for how intensely emotional and riveting it would be. While I was expecting a literary elucidation of a writer's ....
No, no, no. STOP. Just stop. This is NOT the way to talk about this story. A review of this book needs poetry, it demands a baring of one's soul, a departure from academic discussion of its merits and shortcomings. It requires a painting, or a song; to speak of it must require a discovery, a journey of experience.
Reading Wide Sargasso Sea is to enter a dreamworld, a sensory landscape of swirling voices speaking in tongues, scent-sations tickling forgotten memories, and heat, everywhere, heat. It is the experience one sometimes gets when traveling, of almost-understanding and possibilities not quite understood. It is the feeling of waking from a dream you've had before, of a moment of deja vu...
It is ephemeral, and incomplete, my understanding of this book; I know I will read it again, and I know I still won't grasp all of it, and that's ok. It is enough to immerse myself in it and try....more
Although it might go on a tad longer than necessary to make its point(s), and the ending might be a skoche on this side of saccharine, I thoroughly enAlthough it might go on a tad longer than necessary to make its point(s), and the ending might be a skoche on this side of saccharine, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a fin de siècle power family undergoing the transformation from the 1% to the 99%. Everything changes, everything stays the same....more