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So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,132 ratings  ·  419 reviews
"Maureen Corrigan has produced a minor miracle: a book about The Great Gatsby that stands up to Gatsby itself" --Michael Cunningham.

It's a revered classic and a rite of passage in the reading lives of millions. But how well do we really know The Great Gatsby? As "Fresh Air" book critic Maureen Corrigan points out, many of us first read Fitzgerald's masterpiece when we were too young to compre
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Back Bay Books (first published September 9th 2014)
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Glenn Sumi
NPR book critic and Georgetown University instructor Maureen Corrigan’s So We Read On is a thoughtful, entertaining and highly accessible book about The Great Gatsby, which she proudly calls the greatest American novel ever. After finishing it, if you ever doubted, you’ll agree with her.



F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece wasn’t always so admired, however. Reviews – by both professional critics and some o
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Angela M
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 brightly lit green stars .

This is a beautiful love song to my favorite novel , an analysis of the story , its characters and its themes and the author's tribute not just to the novel but to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Corrigan , a professor at Georgetown and NPR book critic , reminded me of everything that I love about this book - the perfect language that never gets old even though I've read this book multiple times , Gatsby's dreams and desires , the time and place .

This bro
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Helen
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There was a moment in this book where I actually shouted "Yes!" out loud.

The year I turned 13, I became the owner of a scruffy paperback copy of The Great Gatsby. I fell in love the first time I read through it, then proceeded to read it another thirty times. Read every Fitzgerald novel I could find, every biography, every short story. I carried Gatsby around with me all that year, balanced on top of my pile of school books as I went from class to class. Though we studied it for Honors English, it was
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Perry
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great American Novel: Belief in The Green Light and Orgastic Future*

NPR book critic/Georgetown professor Maureen Corrigan loves The Great Gatsby, as do I, so much so that she wrote this delightful, didactic book: So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures . With great élan, she argues Gatsby is the Great American Novel because, among other things, Gatsby splendidly captured:
Americans' quotidian desire for achieving the American dream of fortune, fame and happy family;

Americans' yen for desire
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Simone
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014-read

So here's the thing. If you have not re-read The Great Gatsby since you possibly (probably) read it in high school, or you have never read it, you need to read or re-read it. This book really confirms that The Great Gatsby is being wasted on high school students. I felt that way when I re-read Gatsby before seeing the Baz Luhrmann version. I sat there gobsmacked staring at the last line, "so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" and thought about all the longing and nostalgi
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Tarah
Dec 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sooooo..... not to be a crazy asshole, but I'd be really interested in what other Fitzgerald scholars think about this book because I am unable to shed my lens while reading (which is weird, because when reading trashy books [which I am not saying this is] I shed the "I'm a scholar" lens ALL the time-- because it is both useless and boring in these cases). I am ALL for books that speak about literature for non-specialist audiences. So I SWEAR I'm not being a smug, superior asshole about this boo ...more
Susan
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote what is arguably the Great American Novel, but died believing himself to be a failure. In So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures, Maureen Corrigan shares her deep love and understanding of this complex, intricately-structured novel. She also provides insights into Fitzgerald’s life as he wrote, and obsessively re-wrote, his most celebrated work. Here’s Maureen poring over Fitzgerald’s personal copy of the first edition of Gatsby in the Fitzgerald Papers at

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Diane S ☔
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been totally immersed in the enthusiasm and the symbolism of all things Fitzgerald and Gatsby. Not sure I would have appreciated this as much years ago but I sure did now. So many things, new ways of looking at old things, and just a wonderful foray into the past.

I have been remiss. or did I never know how prolific a writer he was in his short years. Have since bought a book of his short stories, he wrote over 200. His relationships, where he wrote, his reverence of other authors, his lo
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Matthew
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fbom-titles
Gatsby fans, do yourself a favor and download the audio version of this book, which will play like one long episode of Maureen Corrigan reviewing "The Great Gatsby" on Fresh Air. I admire the work that Corrigan (whose family name is one of the guests from the famous party list that opens chapter 4) has put into this book, which culminates in a return to her Astoria high school (not far from the Valley of Ashes, it turns out) to observe what kids today think of this novel. Despite being out of pr ...more
Suzy
I was completely swept up in Maureen Corrigan's love letter to The Great Gatsby. This book is true to it's tagline - How TGG Came to Be and Why It Endures.

To that end, So We Read On doesn't limit itself to focusing on TGG. Corrigan also gives us a picture of Fitgerald's early life in St Paul, Minnesota, his life with Zelda, his experience in NYC and Long Island that contributed directly to scenes in TGG, how he was viewed by critics, other authors and the public, what he wrote before and after TGG and
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Nancy
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When the last Gatsby movie version came out I reread the novel, along with Tender is the Night and Flapper short stories by Fitzgerald that had appeared in magazines. Yet even before I had finished her book Corrigan had me reading Gatsby once again.

How many times have I read Gatsby? I read it in high school several times, first in the paperback used by high school English classes. It was not required reading for my classes, but in my teen years I was reading Modern fiction and spent
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Barbara
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Had never heard of it until it was mentioned in our BYT discussion of Careless People. Once I heard about it, I had to read it and I'm very glad I did. Maureen Corrigan made many points about Gatsby that had not occurred to me---Gatsby as a noirish book, as a commentary on class, the omnipresence of water throughout the book (death in the pool, drowning in liquor, Gatsby arriving soaking wet at his reunion with Daisy, etc.) She also made much of the structure of the boo ...more
Michael
120116: i have not read critical work on gatsby for many years. this is an example of when the created art is in exactly the right medium, genre, voice, and all crit can do is bring out what is already perfect there. over the decades since i first read, then once every three or so years- might give the idea that too much information deadens the magic, but not in this case...

this is sort of a summary of how the book was conceived, received, reviewed, reappraised, with some details abo
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Kris
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-write-think
A big chunk of this book is Fitzgerald biography, which is not why I picked it up and wanted to read it.

Another big chunk of this book is simply Corrigan's exploration of Fitzgerald archives and her own past. Also not why I picked it up.

So I'm rather disappointed with this one overall. I expected something better written, and more... Engaging? Serious? Organized? Corrigan uses so many adjectives, it's over-written; if I had to read the word "hard boiled" one more time, to
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Kim
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, I enjoyed this light analysis of the book and biographical look at F. Scott Fitzgerald. I do wish it would have followed Fitzgerald's life a bit more chronologically instead of jumping around so much. I share her enthusiasm for The Great Gatsby, and she piqued my interest in reading some of Fitzgerald's short stories now. Special thanks to Deb for alerting me to this book's existence.
Sarah
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-crit, audio
A miscellany of Gatsby-related stuff: biography, trivia (some of it very trivial indeed), literary tourism, personal response and what it's like to be a college professor, some of which is interesting, if that sort of thing interests you. Gatsby obsessives, like the writer herself, will like it most of course, and dipping aurally in and out, as I'm reconsidering my approach to teaching it to another and this time to particularly disinclined class, was not a waste of time at all. How Gatsby went ...more
Stephanie Fujii
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was a gift from one of my students this year. So very, very thoughtful of him, as he (and pretty much everyone) knows how I adore Gatsby. It is for these reasons (gift, love of Gatsby) that I wish this book was better :( It's really a 2.5 stars for me.

The biggest problem I had was that I feel it never really answered the title. "How Gatsby came to be and why it endures" She definitely OVER did the "how [it] came to be", but I don't feel that she clearly and cohesively addre
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Julie
Corrigan's book was a delight. Though I'm a sucker for anything about writers and books. She does an excellent job of looking beneath the surface of the author and the novel.

This book is a gift for anyone that loves what the weight and flow of just the right words can do and then is brave enough to give it a try. I'm starting to work on a novel I've been thinking about for decades. This rendering of an iconic novel and its author is both raw and charming. It's a reminder to trust my own instinc
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Azita Rassi
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. Every Gatsby lover should definitely read this book. The author reads the audiobook herself, and she does it beautifully.
Liv
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's no secret that The Great Gatsby is my favourite book, so getting to read this was so amazing (best birthday present EVER).
Corrigan gives incredible insight into the world of the Great Gatsby and to Fitzgerald himself in an accessible and gripping way. She gives so many details I didn't know (very refreshing) and presents many different ideas about passages and influences to Fitzgerald's writing of the American classic.
Her writing bounces from being elevated to colloquial, which I lik
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Judyarzt
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Okay, will admit upfront, I am one of those Gatsby fans. It all started when I changed from being a chemistry to an English major as a result of writing an essay as a first-year college student about the color symbolism in this novel. Then, like Maureen Corrigan, I had ample opportunities to "teach" the book in my English classes. Corrigan's book fascinated me by the way she was able to accumulate so much data through the decades of what this book meant during different time periods. More s ...more
Andie
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always admired The Great Gatsby and I really like Maureen Corrigan's book reviews on "Fresh Air", so I grabbed this book the minute I saw it on the new release shelves at the library. Ms. Corrigan loves both the book and FItzgerald and in her book takes us on both a tour of his life and also down a deconstructed tour of the novel. I'm not a literary critic, but I think she excused Fitzgerald way too much in his personal behavior, especially his well-known habit of stealing fiction from his wife. ...more
JoAnn
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed this quite a bit - an entertaining combination of literary discussion, Fitzgerald biography, and the author's personal experience. Now I need to reread The Great Gatsby. It's been well over a decade.
Julia (Shakespeare and Such)
It’s Fitzgerald’s thin-but-durable urge to affirm that finally makes Gatsby worthy of being our Great American Novel. Its soaring conclusion tells us that, even though Gatsby dies and the small and corrupt survive, his longing was nonetheless magnificent.


3.6/5 stars

Organization : 3/5 - This book is part Fitzgerald biography (mostly Scott though a fair amount of Zelda too), part literary analysis, part personal memoir of Corrigan's experiences in reading The Great Gatsby, promoting it as part of The Big Read, and being a/>Organization
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Seana
Nov 30, 2017 added it
I love when coincidence leads me to a book I might otherwise never have noticed. I had just seen another Maureen Corrigan title, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading, on someone's list when I happened upon this title on the library used book cart. So I swooped it up.

I'm not really a The Great Gatsby fan, at least so far. But I love books about other people's book obsessions, and Corrigan makes a convincing case that I may have to give it a third try. What really struck me most in this book is her description of Fit
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C.L. Cannon
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is for the Gatsby lover! I'm not sure how dear it would be to someone who is not a fan, but this fan adored it! Corrigan covers the history of the novel, the age it was written in, and the man who wrote it, in a seamless flow of personal stories, geographic journeys, and academic analysis. The author mentions that she wants to examine the novel not as the tragic love story it is so often touted as, but as a noir. I think she establishes this deftly, yet the words penned and the passion ...more
Nikki
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 21st-century
I picked up this book because Maureen Corrigan was my freshman writing instructor. It was so compelling that I also picked up The Great Gatsby, which I have either read once in graduate school or have thoroughly forgotten two readings (high school? College? I can’t remember reading in either place).

Corrigan, who was one of the guides of the NEA’s Big Read of Gatsby, presents a thorough literary analysis that also delves into Fitzgerald’s biography as well as a cultural history of the book. Corr
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Judy Collins
A special thank you to Little Brown & Company and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, by Maureen Corrigan offers extraordinary insights and commentary, into the real meaning behind this timeless classic; the characters, the time, viewpoints and perspectives, symbolisms, comparisons, and interesting tidbits of this talented author, Scott Fitzgerald; inspiring readers to re-read, to experiOn:
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Olive
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2019
Check out my (dual) nonfiction review: https://youtu.be/0PqUh0mt7lI
Carol Storm
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much fun it feels almost like reading the novel itself!
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Maureen Corrigan (Born July 30, 1955) is an American journalist, author and literary critic. She writes for the "Book World" section of The Washington Post, and is a book critic on the NPR radio program Fresh Air. In 2005, she published a literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books.

Corrigan holds a B.A. from Fordham University as well as an M.A. and Ph.D from the Uni
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“It’s Fitzgerald’s thin-but-durable urge to affirm that finally makes Gatsby worthy of being our Great American Novel. Its soaring conclusion tells us that, even though Gatsby dies and the small and corrupt survive, his longing was nonetheless magnificent.” 4 likes
“Fitzgerald’s plot may suggest that the American Dream is a mirage, but his words make that dream irresistible.” 4 likes
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