I read the book fourteen hours before the movie, remembering suddenly around 2:30 AM, while working on this cute little number (a Fire Emblem fanfic), that my sister wanted to watch “The Great Gatsby” after her physical yesterday. I remember her telling me that when she had to read it for class, it was slow in going at first, and she was considering something wretched like Sparknotes, but she definitely liked it in the end.
I’ve yet to come across a classic or some sort of bestseller that I disliked- sure, there may have been things I’ve disliked about it. “Crash” was too dramatic, anything by Dickens is outrageously wordy, and Debussy really starts running together after about three pieces or so. Still, I had no doubt in my mind that I would enjoy reading The Great Gatsby. I ended up bringing it, and finishing it, to my sister’s appointment (I found some teenager playing Fire Emblem, too, though he was a bit antisocial… That may be putting it lightly… Maybe autism?).
I gasped variously as the people came in and out of the office, squealing here and there, and whining in despair towards the end. Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers- though I’m sure most people on WordPress has probably read many greats.
I had always looked forward to The Great Gatsby. In Tennessee, American Literature is covered in the 11th grade. But when my class read the the book, I was in Vanderbilt’s psyche ward, getting over another mental breakdown. My teacher, I still remember, Mr. Viscusi said I would have liked it, since I never had problems with any of the assigned reading (I think he meant I was easily pleased).
Joining Johns Hopkins, and I felt that I would come across the book since my major allowed for room for so many electives. Surely, I would come across the book eventually- and I was close many times.
What got me was the uncanny language. It didn’t feel like it was written over eighty years ago. The language of Nick Carraway could be seen in any contemporary piece of literature, but it was without the pedantic and superfluous Special Language for dialogue that so many authors use. I felt Fitzgerald felt what that was, and made light of it, and made characters (except Tom) that convinced me that they were making light of themselves.
In this rushed reading, I was mostly in tune with the plot and the exuberance of the characters. Not so much Nick, though… Or Wilson… You know, the ones that got… *cough* carried away. Wait, is that something? *google* Hm… Carraway is a seed… So not a play on being swept up in all this?
What I liked most about the writing was that it definitely felt like I was being told a story. I felt that it was for my entertainment, and mine only- I know, so selfish! It radiated story first, and, as with all great stories, dozens of lovely lessons on the way.
The lesson that too many people look after themselves, even when they are helped and loved by others, even when they are comfortable. The lesson that people make mistakes, terrible mistakes, permanent mistakes. The lesson that people will choose the wrong thing when very, very, very clear of the right one- there is no grey area, there’s no talking yourself out of it. The lesson that sometimes you know you’re in the wrong and you charge ahead anyhow, knowing your cowardly ass will make it out okay.
The lesson that leading someone on is… Is a very real thing. Honestly, I thought it was a victim-blaming phrase so that men feel better about raping whomever. That you can lead someone too far, and have them hanging so goddamn dry that forty days wouldn’t be enough to resuscitate.
The lesson that not knowing everything about someone still means nothing if you love them enough, and it is still wrong to hang them dry and to kill them, and they can still be pitiful people, and I’ll hate you with your highborn, legal money because you’re a hypocrite and a coward and you, her, and the whole lot of them will never equal Gatsby! (etc.)
I was certain he would turn out rotten. I was certain that they would make him rotten in the movie. More selfish, more supercilious, more hateful, more jealous, more greedy- anything to keep the sweet, despairing, pitiful, hopeful Gatsby from dying again. From me hating Daisy for drying him in that fucking pool, from me loathing Tom more than for his misogyny and cumbersome racism, and from so many others that made his funeral such a lonely affair.
Neither the book nor movie did any such thing.
The movie was so much worse as it heightened my senses with the sights and sounds almost unbearably stark. All throughout the movie, as the feeling set in that Gatsby would be gorgeous until the end, sweet until the end, hung until the end- and then I will see it in such vivid color, surrounded by a hushed crowd, my sister squeezing my hand, and the music either mournful or silent (which would be so much more terrible), how could my heart take it?
What would Daisy and Tom look like? I was so angry at them, I couldn’t even think!
And when I saw them, I knew it was real. Yes, that was how they would like. I’ve seen that look on the uncaring and comfortable, the tail-tuckers and escapers. How I despised them both.
As that scene dragged on and Tobey slept on the steps and DiCaprio rested in the casket, possibly thinking that that would be a real thing someday, I wheeled my mind through the covers played around the many scenes, the familiar melodies over vivid roaring dancing- “Is Beyonce covering Amy Winehouse?” I remember asking as I searched my mind as to whether ’20s bathing suits really looked like that. Later on, would men really object to a man wearing pink? And how I wanted someone to break the ice some more. Like, literally, the sound of that chipper breaking all that off was lovely (or that might be my iron deficiency talking. It’s getting so bad that I eat ice wherever I find it at work. If I don’t, the lymph nodes in my neck hurt so bad I can’t move, and I end up eating the ice that’s formed between two slabs of plastic-encased T-bones thawing in cool water… I might want to get that checked out).
I absolutely loved Tobey’s expression in so many scenes, scenes I read hours before where I knew poor Nick was just so caught. You know that look.
Pretty much identical, right? I felt the movie did the book justice. Initially, I guessed it would be a lot more boring, but they didn’t go that way at all. Ya’ll know freakin’ Jay-Z was the executive producer? Like, huh, what?
It was fantastic, great, everything that I could ever hope for. Entertainment at it’s very finest.