Review: The Great Gatsby

I can understand why my high school honors English teacher chose not to have us read this book. It’s fine. But she knew it wouldn’t challenge those of us in her ninth grade and tenth grade honors English. As a tableau of the “roaring twenties” it’s pretty good. As a work of literature… it’s fine?

This isn’t a book I would recommend to someone who doesn’t either have a teacher to walk through the context of the 1920’s OR a decent knowledge of the 1920’s because you’ve studied history. I say this because the alcohol flows like rivers throughout the peoples’ hands, but this is the height of prohibition – and that Gatsby is a bootlegger or helper of bootleggers is heavily implied even if it’s never verified. He smuggles alcohol.

Frankly, none of the characters are good people. Not just because they guzzle down gin and brandy like it’s crack in the 80’s. They lie. They are selfish. They don’t think any of the rules from drinking to cheating to anything else – nothing applies to them (apparently).

The plot took a minute to get started. I didn’t mind it, I feel like it was trying to set up Gatsby as appropriately “mysterious.” And pretty much everyone behaves in believable ways. Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom are all very selfish. Tom wants to have his wife and his mistress without any consequences. Daisy wants money and stability despite being (at least emotionally) abused. Gatsby thinks money can solve anything and make everything he doesn’t like just disappear.

I can see why this would make a good movie (I haven’t seen it yet). Interesting, flawed but all-too-real people; the glitz and glam of the roaring twenties; bootleggers and sports stars… I might have to see if it’s on Netflix or something to watch.