The Great Gatsby: A Review

I’ve read three of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels and more than a dozen of his short stories. This novel has more adventure than the other two (This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned) but isn’t written as well. It almost seemed cut and pasted, some of the scenes were so out of place. In fact, my impression is that he started out writing a novel along his usual slowly developing line and then got in a hurry and wrapped it up (it is really more like a novella with about 60K words by my estimate). The editor notes at the back revealed that he had rewritten major parts after receiving an author’s proof from the publisher.

I liked the way the story was told by a somewhat disinterested man (the only likable person in the story) who met Jay Gatsby as a neighbor. However, everything we learned about Gatsby and his long-lasting love for Daisy was through this narrator retelling what he had been told by Gatsby. I didn’t really get a feel for it and in fact it was so briefly presented that it seemed unimportant to me as I was reading. It was only by reading the extremely long preface, which talked about this as if it was a generational divide, that I realized it was a major theme of the story. It’s worth repeating that the interesting scenes were obviously contrived to fit them into the story. None of it made sense, not even for super-wealthy people with nothing to do with their time.

As with everything else by Fitzgerald that I’ve read, he has a problem with punctuation; specifically, he doesn’t use commas very much, even though he writes long, descriptive sentences with plenty of prepositional phrases. I guess some authors get excited and don’t notice that the pauses that are in their head aren’t indicated in the punctuation. Oh well. This is very common.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book, unless you’re reading anything and everything you get your hands on like I am.

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