Lauren's Reviews > The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Apr 29, 12


Ugh, this book. I find it difficult to find something intelligent to say about Gatsby because this book is highly regarded by many but yet my core reaction still tends towards being a pure and unbridled distaste. This is such a boring book.

I suppose this book is renowned for its take on The American Dream, but it ultimately has much less to say than its pages. Here, I'll tell you about The American Dream: it's a lie. Fitzgerald doesn't like it. People are fake and ugly. Now spare yourself a reading of this terrible book.

Someone I respect more than anything in the world said this book succeeded not because it was a good story but because it was beautifully written. However, I'm afraid I cannot agree here, either. While the last few pages are carefully-phrased enough to do some part in redeeming the book, it lacks the absolute joy of words I find in Jonathan Lethem or G.K. Chesterton, the deep and lasting look at humanity I find in Philip K. Dick or (ugh, even) Chuck Palahniuk, or the wry observational insights of John Green and Neil Gaiman. This book has nothing to commend it.

The worst thing about Gatsby, though, the thing that ultimately ruins it, is that its characters are all so thoroughly detestable. There is no one to root for in this damned novel! While I do not think that characters in fiction need to be likable, I do think that fundamentally characters in fiction need to be sympathetic. That is to say: they need to make us care. Making a character likable or easy to relate to is a sort of shortcut to giving the reader emotional involvement in the story. It is this emotional involvement in the story that is crucial to the unfolding of the narrative. You have to give a shit what happens, and in Gatsby this is quite impossible. Gatsby, from start to finish, is a book about rich assholes being rich assholes and talking about how rich they are and how much of an asshole everyone but them is. You honestly just want everyone to die in a car crash so it will be over.

If this were the real history of American literature, I would say America is fucked.
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