This is the first masterpiece that I have read that is unputdownable. It is so fast paced; it glides in a flash second before your very eyes like a work of magic that before you realize, you are done. And you have got nothing from it. Published almost a century ago, 1925 to be specific, the book is considered one of the greatest works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It is about a man called Jay Gatsby told in the voice of one Nick Carraway who happens to be his neighbor. Gatsby is a man of pomp and color in terms of hosting endless parties that attract people from different states in America. But the fun ends there. A dimension of emptiness and loneliness sets in that is characteristic of the partygoers. The narrator almost contemptuously remarks:
“I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited — they went there.”
During the party, Nick Carraway with another partygoer called Jordan Baker while taking a walk inside the several rooms of Gatsby’s majestic mansion chance upon a drunk in the library. He forks:
“Who brought you?” he demanded. “Or did you just come? I was brought. Most people were brought.”
“I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.”
Jay Gatsby, however, is a man who is never happy and always looks distant. He is a man obsessed with impressing Daisy Buchanan, a married woman of impeccable glitter and glamour. Daisy Buchanan was his former lover about a half a decade ago and Gatsby has never gotten over their former intense affair.
The sun finally sets on Gatsby when he dies and only his father, Nick Carraway and the man who was at the library attends his hurried funeral. Not even Daisy Buchanan or his best friend wants to get associated with him. The former soldier eventually goes with a hollow dream of the past that never materializes and only ends up distressed in the end.
The author through his narrator quips in a reflective and sentimental note:
“It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning—— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
This book will leave you flustered and asking questions that have no immediate answers. For those who have had trouble with their past love life – the fascination with the first love – you will quake in a haunting distress of the pointlessness of it.
The author, a celebrated novelist and short story writer of the Lost Generation will sweep you off your feet like a girl in love with his lines in the book. Sample a few:
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
“When the JAZZ HISTORY OF THE WORLD was over, girls were putting their heads on men’s shoulders in a puppyish, convivial way, girls were swooning backward playfully into men’s arms, even into groups, knowing that someone would arrest their falls — but no one swooned backward on Gatsby, and no French bob touched Gatsby’s shoulder, and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby’s head for one link.”
“I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter into their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others — poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner — young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”
“Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty — the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat’s shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand. So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.”
[This article was first published here]