Jennifer (aka EM)’s review of The Great Gatsby > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by jo (new)

jo what a great review!

message 2: by jo (new)

jo i wish i could write reviews like you. i'm not fishing for compliments or reassurances. i really wish i could write reviews like you. you've got to muse, man.

message 3: by Jennifer (aka EM) (last edited Dec 31, 2011 08:27AM) (new)

Jennifer (aka EM) are you kidding me?!? YOU WRITE BEAUTIFUL UNTOUCHABLE reviews. I'm not sucking up to your non-fishing. I was just reading your Salvage the Bones review, and it gets at those things that are so deep and important about the novel, and expresses them so elegantly and with such deep feeling - those elements so important to you, and important to any reader. So you make readers want to read; and you make me want to read like you read and then write: with that depth of feeling and understanding.

There are reviewers on this site - you are one; Elizabeth, karen, Ceridwen (and more!! more!!) are others - who manage to integrate elements of their lives and selves into their reviews, so the things become so much more than a book review. You all are truly inspirational to me.

And this book, this book, this morning - there is so much more that needs to be said about it. I was annoyed when I started it - annoyed with my younger self and the teacher who taught it to me (a New Critic, and one of the most important influences on my life), but it seemed like he made me focus on all the symbolism and I MISSED THE STORY - THE MEANING OF THE STORY!!

There is so much more to this story in its mere 182 pages.

And I see you 2-starred it - so, it didn't open up to you?

message 4: by jo (new)

jo thanks, jen. i think we are blind to our own achievements and keenly aware of the other's. it would be better if we were aware of our own, too, but that's not an entirely bad position to be, since we don't mind praising. :)

as for GG, i read it a couple of times in the first five years after i came to the US and it just didn't mean anything to me. american dream? please. impossibly rich people fucking around? give me something i can relate to. also, as i was just telling simon, i simply didn't have the tools (cultural, but also geographical etc.) to understand it. west and east egg? i spent HOURS trying to work out the symbolism of that egg stuck in the middle of somewhere-in-new-york. it didn't OCCUR to me that it might be a place! so, basically, i read GG as if it were a surrealist novel, and i understood nothing at all.

but i suspect that if i had read it in italian, with footnotes, i still would have found it very hard to relate to. impossible, really.

Jennifer (aka EM) I think you're totally on to something - this book offers something to Americans that we non-Americans simply can't fully understand; it just doesn't have the same resonance. Elizabeth alludes to it in her review (and/or possibly in the comments thread).

I was reading the reviews and comments by UK/Australian folks on my friends list here this a.m., and there is a clear division in response to it.

It's interesting to me that it is a part of every high school curriculum in Canada, or at least was.

I have the same problem with Steinbeck.

message 6: by jo (new)

jo no, wait, steinbeck? he talks about the suffering of the downtrodden, doesn't it? that should be a pretty universal theme.

Jennifer (aka EM) but for some reason, he`s not on the curricula of most Cdn high schools, so I was never exposed - and then my reading just went in a completely different direction. To this day, I have not read a single Steinbeck - what should I start with?

message 8: by jo (new)

jo oh i see. Grapes of Wrath. it's amazing. i'd read it again with you but i've got quite a reading challenge and cannot truly afford to re-read books, if you see what i mean.

Jennifer (aka EM) oh, i understand completely. Carry on.

(your rec is important to my 2011 BestReads infographic-listicle, in prep now.)

message 10: by jo (new)


hey do you realize that Salvage the Bones is about a pitt bull?

Jennifer (aka EM) OMFG, it is: `Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt.`

i can`t read that - Katrina and dying puppies, are you trying to KILL ME?????

(ps on the former, you`ll see, you`ll see!!!)

message 12: by jo (new)

jo they are SO NOT dying one by one in the dirt! absolutely not!!!! did you read this in the GR description????

anyway, the pittbull is a sweet and much loved white female called china. she's one of the best things about the book. her and the boy who loves her so much.

message 13: by jo (new)

jo also, stoopit GR description, skeetah gets china the best food available at the market, in large bags. the scraps are extra.

message 14: by jo (new)

jo now, you may ask, is it all love and gentleness and the triumph of the human-canine bond? and i'd have to answer a reluctant no. :(

message 15: by KFed (new)

KFed Salvage the bones was good. Not as brutal as it sounds.

message 16: by Jennifer (aka EM) (last edited Jan 01, 2012 11:16AM) (new)

Jennifer (aka EM) I refuse to cry in 2012. Not a single tear will be shed by me over a book. A stupid book. Just words. On a page. Made-up words on a page.

No tears, no sirree bub.

message 17: by jo (new)

jo hmm. don't read Salvage the Bones.

message 18: by Jennifer (aka EM) (last edited Jan 02, 2012 07:19AM) (new)

Jennifer (aka EM) I was being flippant about not crying in 2012 - I love to read books that make me cry, and many do!

But GG - no, it didn't make me cry.

I'm trying not to generalize, although I realize I am anyway, and I can only speak from my perspective as a Canadian - but I think that the gigantic metaphor, "The American Dream", born out of a violent revolution and a very specific historical, social, political, economic past - influences the American reader's read of this novel in a different way than the non-American's.

I have an intellectual understanding of what Fitzgerald was pining for here, but not an emotional or visceral one, other than to just appreciate the overall loss and sadness. I guess I can sympathize but not fully empathize.

It's really interesting that you mention Woolf and Fitzgerald as having a similar sense of loss - that is really dead-on, I think. And it's not coincidental, I don't think, that I relate to Woolf's characters with a similar one-step-removed emotional response.


I am right now doing a 2011 analysis of my reading (and having a devil of a time with the html), and this is an interesting perspective to consider.

Jennifer (aka EM) Precisely. My working class background limits my empathy for, as jo says, "impossibly rich people fucking around." (although Woolf's attention is focused on a broader segment - not quite the 1%, right?)

I'm not clear where Fitzgerald's own sympathies lie, to be honest. I get a sense of ambivalence from him, certainly from Nick who seems a stand-in for him (if that's not authorial heresy to suggest), when it comes to his admiration of the wealth and power, a yearning for it or at least to be around it that circumscribes whatever moral judgement he might feel about the methods of acquiring it or the behaviours of those who have it.

I should read more Fitzgerald, probably.

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