Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Great Gatsby
Okay, from silly Bridget Jones to finishing The Great Gatsby in one day. I have been profoundly affected by this book. I can't remember what year in high school I read it the first time but I must've been an awful slacker (not too surprising) to not remember this book. I think I skipped around a lot and used spark notes for my quizzes because all I really remembered were some romantic details and the symbolic importance of eyes on the billboard--like the eyes of God watching sinners below.
I've decided it makes no difference that I didn't appreciate it then because it doesn't mean anything (beyond "when are we watching the movie?" Robert Redford is one fine preppy!) when your too young to understand something like...
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
...because we don't have a past to row away from.
It's a beautiful book. I always thought that F. Scott Fitzgerald was cool because I knew I was supposed to think he was--all cultured people new how significantly cool he was, but now that I'm at that age I just get it. You have to be around lots of different young people to understand this book. You have to see it all around you to understand and oddly I think being college age in a town like Boone is an unlikely but accurate insight into a modern version of the parties and the interations of the upper classes and the complete and vulgar carelessness that happens when everything is given and nothing is earned. Okay, before I go off on a rant about the socio-economic issues in this book, I must say that's not what it's all about at all. It is about being young and so old at the same time. It's about loving someone (or the idea of them) enough to completely change your life and suddenly realizing they have no intention to do the same. It's about true friendship and genuine connections you make with people, and then the massive illusion of friends that don't exist. It's about moving forward in a way that's seems so impossible that you don't even know to do it. It's about something that resonated with me most: that is, being where you belong, knowing that where you live is not always home, and that the majority of who you are (in a positive sense) is where you came from. This phenomenon has always been a struggle for me. I've gone back and forth, and back and forth. I know this is why no real success latches on to me. You go off to somewhere you think is so much of who you are--perhaps who you want to be--and you find yourself looking around a large party wondering who are these people? What do I care about them? Knowing that you know something they do not. You hover over their heads...but for all you know they hover over your's in a million other ways.
I could go on like this for a very long time. My point is it's a beautiful book. Maybe the best thing I've read so far.