Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Curiouser Than Usual Book Club - First Session

And here we are at last, our first ever book club meeting. I'm glad you could make it. Pull up a chair, move that Xing Dynasty vase over and get comfortable while I light the fireplace. There, much better. Now let's start sharing our thoughts on the first of our literary pieces The Great Gatsby.

How did you like it? What are your initial reactions to it? What do you think it's about? We want to know your notions about the book and why you think Fitzgerald used the characters and symbols he did.

Here's your chance to have your say. So comment on this post and let's discuss what you thought about it. Use the discussion questions I posted earlier to start you off. I'm very interested in what you concluded about the story and the meanings you've derived from it.


  1. The Great Gatsby, to me, is the epitome of paradise lost. In the novel we follow Nick, a young man from the midwest of America the land of the free, and his experiences with the East and all of the ritz and tawdry glamour associated with Long Island and New York. The reader is drawn into a detailed world of champagne bubbles, jazz music, twinkling lights and laughter - shown at its zenith at one of Jay Gatsby's parties. It is perfect. Nothing is forgotten. And yet we are quickly shown that there is disquiet in the apparent perfection as we become aware of Tom Buchanan's affair and then of Gatby's own desire for Daisy.

    Soon, this lust and deceit tarnish the shiny perfection of the wealthy American dream we've been shown so intricately and the happiness quite rapidly and horrifically ends. And the reader is left with a sweet taste in their mouth, one of nostalgia and childhood, sunsets and warm sand, albeit one with the bitter sting of death.

    What did you think?

  2. I have a little stage fright.. but here goes:

    The Great Gatsy is generally considered to be Fitzgerald's critique of the American Dream, and for me reading his novel shows the reality of this 'dream' and how desire (be it for a person, for money or for a future that is different from the past), can be destructive. How yearning for a future dream can push us further backwards.

    Ultimately Gatsby's pursuit of the Daisy he has built up, embellished and treasured in his mind (which may or may not actually exist in reality and in her actual personality) - only drives him deeper into the past. I love how the last line of the book sums that up so poignantly.

    Unlike Tom & Daisy, Gatsby's need for money is just a means to an end - his pathway to the Daisy he has presevered in his dreams. Conversely, Tom and Daisy are almost ruled by their wealth and their position, to the point where they feel unnaccountable for their actions and fail to see the right or wrong in what they do.

    Okay, so i'll stop here and let someone else jump in...

  3. I absolutely agree with you Jess, the characters are continually pushed backwards in their struggle for things ahead due to their obsession with unattainable things (such as Gatsby's imaginary-Daisy desire and Tom's lust for Myrtle). The sad description of money and the horrors it can bring about are well described in the death of Myrtle, a woman not normally exposed to such massive wealth, the heart break of Gatsby due to his pursuit of Daisy via his hoarding of dirty money, and Tom's soulless path of debris he leaves in his wake, feeling unaccountable for anything he does because he has the money to seemingly erase the consequences out of his own perspective as one does with a graphite pencil line.

    Also, I think the novel itself is almost a warning to those that read it, to show that money is not the answer to your problems. Rather, having a realistic viewpoint, letting go of past hurt, working honestly for your money, not desiring the undesirable, and constantly reminding oneself that life is short and that we must be careful who we spend it with.

    Do you agree?

  4. I have read this years ago whilst still at school. I recall covering all the basics, how their dreams were shattered and all characters were brought back to reality.

    This time what stood out to me most was how few times Tom and Daisy's daughter was mentioned. Tom's little escapades didn't bother me too much but each time I read of Daisy out and about with Gatsby I couldn't help but wonder "what about the little girl" "she wouldn't really consider leaving her daughter".

    So I wasn't surprised to find that Tom and Daisy remained together as they had done last time I read the book. This time I felt like perhaps it was family that held them together. The bond they shared was their daughter.

    I was surprised to read that Daisy was a brunette..... The whole time I was reading I pictured a rather self-obsessed, wishy washy blonde.

    I know it's not your standard impression of this book, but that's what I got out of it.

    Oh and I couldn't help but think that the rather large bespectacled eyes perhaps ware a metaphore for a higher power, someone that sees all, someone that may later hold you accountable for your actions.

  5. This novel is the perfect picture of the wealthy in the prosperous financial period for the US following the Great War.

    The part about the book which intrigued me most was Jordan Bakers relationship with Nick. Yes, she was beautiful and talented but I found it interesting that her and Nick were kind of thrown together in the midst of this breakdown of someone else’s marriage. It seemed the only reason they spent anytime together and was obvious it would not last. Jordan seems a rather course and impersonal character. She is the epitome of a 'modern girl' of the twenties. Fashionable, independent & sporty.

    Yes, Monet Paisley, the eyes where definitely a metaphor for God watching over all their escapades.

    I will be honest in that I did not really connect with this book.

    There were some interesting twists toward the end and it was an enjoyable read.

  6. Hi, Loretta here. I have enjoyed all your comments about The Great Gatsby immensely. It is a few years since I have read it but it resonates with me in ways that are hard to explain. What remains in my mind is the elusive dream, the perpetual longing for glamour, the empty and unexamined obsession with the trappings of money and status that Gatsby embodies. To me this book is an excellent example of the 'unreliable narrator' trope. Is the Narrator seeing things honestly or is he in fact projecting his own longings onto Gatsby? Writing tender romances on the sealed pages of Gatsby's personality (much like the pages of the books in Gatsby's library)? In this way the Narrator exults Gatsby in much the same way that Gatsby apparently idolises Daisy. But in Gatsby, as in this book, there proves to be no real charm or tenderness, it is a mere trick of the light that obscures violence, ugly lust and deceit.

    If you have ever felt that who you are isn't good enough for some unattainable 'Great' personage or some exclusive scene, and that you must cheat, conceal and put on a fantastic show to be accepted, "The Great Gatsby" is the book for you.

  7. So true Horatio. And fantastic spotting regarding the unreliable narrator ideology. It's true, as the reader we are convinced of the flashy personage of Gatsby when in fact we could be in the process of being deceived - in a similar way to the party guests being deceived by flashing lights, jazz bands, flowing alcohol and the presence of fame.

    Perhaps the reader is being tricked into having the same longing and adoration for Gatsby as Gatsby himself has for Daisy, like horation mentioned. Maybe we are longing for, not Gatsby himself, but the wealth and tinsel of social acceptance that Gatsby enjoys?

  8. i found it annoying the first time i read it.

    ok the 2nd time.