Go-To Gatsby

ImAGatsbyGirl became the go-to avatar when I needed a screen name about a decade ago. It then became GatsbyGirl due to character space issues. And laziness, as you well know.

Actually, maybe you don’t know. If you never saw Livin’ The Dream or A Life of We, then you probably don’t. Hi, there. I’m a lazy blogger prone to awkwardness and fits of sweating for reasons such as rejoicing and getting nervous and breathing. I spell names wrong and I rarely look things up. I’ve blogged on WordPress before, but never for my own personal reasons. Blogger was always the place for that. Clearly, that’s changed. Here I am, world, look at me. See? That’s a comma splice, and I’m not fixing it.

Back to the Gatsby. I’ve been reading So We Read On, a book that’s been on my to-read list (the list in my head and my official Goodreads list) since it came out. Its subtitle explains that it traces How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures. I figured it would offer intriguing reasons for America’s penchant for it in a chronologically narrated tome. Instead, I’ve found it to be tedious reading that doubles back on itself in sections that repeat information because they are framed around what I think are themes, but I’m not certain if that’s what they’re based on because, well, I don’t like it.

I’m continuing to read it because I simply can’t not finish a book once I’ve begun. Three exceptions: Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl‘s first page is so awful, I stopped reading. The first lines of Lolita are so creepy, that I shut it right up. The Confederacy of Dunces is absolutely horrible, and I don’t care if everyone else in your MFA writing program sings its praises. It’s crap. It’s too long, but more importantly, it’s crappity crap crap. If I actually gave up on it, it’s really that bad.

The second half is turning out to be more interesting than the first because it’s discussing more enduring and less how it came to be. I suppose I thought it would be mostly about its endurance, which means, It’s me, not the book itself.

Plus, I always have high expectations for Gatsby-related items. It’s my favorite book.

I don’t know why it’s my favorite book. I’m not like other bookworms who will read and re-read their favorite books. I like to read new books, as many as I can. I’m a slow reader, and my job requires me to read everything other than books like emails and discussion boards and essays, so my time for reading needs to be crafted purposefully. Last year, I read 80 books because I was on sabbatical. This year, my goal is 20, which is still lofty.

Back to Gatsby. One reason it’s a favorite is its setting. Born, raised, and living on Long Island, I adore most Long Island-set literature. Another reason is its cover. Yes, you can judge a book by its cover. So We Read On dedicates more than a few passages to the creation of the cover, so I’m not the only one who thinks it’s important.

Here’s a confession: I can’t really tell you the entire story complete with all the characters in the order that it all unfolds, and my favorite movie version was the one on A&E with Paul Rudd. I have a really poor memory, and only “favorite” thing I can relate to you word for word is the Channel 11 edited version of The Breakfast Club. Most things from my childhood appear clearer in my mind than books, shows, and movies after I was 10.

Still, Gatsby is a favorite. It’s alliterative, which makes it catchy and easy to say, so when someone asks me my favorite book, I can say it all fast and fancy: The Great Gatsby! Though usually, I say simply, Gatsby, because everyone knows what I’m talking about.

Really what strikes me about it is that I’m a sucker for language. That’s probably why I’m a poet. Pretty structure. Fresh image. Cadence in prose. Fitzgerald crafted and recrafted the heck out of this little book that seems so simple.

So then I found out that, like, other people have read it and love it just as much. I never read it in school, but apparently, lots of other people  have. Lots of teachers teach it. Then that DiCaprio version happened, and it became super all the rage all at once. Incidentally, I threw a party with a bootlegging 1920s theme at the end of that year, but it wasn’t about The Great Gatsby although the fake bar was named after Gatsby. Even when I don’t seek him out, he finds me.

In the meantime, I submitted to and was accepted by Silver Birch’s The Great Gatsby Anthology. The follow up to that was another of my poems posted by Silver Birch on their site to celebrate Fitzgerald’s birthday. The press also runs posts about the authors, so I appeared again in my Gatsby glory. My brother spent a day with me attempting to get as close as we could to Manhasset Bay to snap a picture of me with the anthology in front of it. The rich people of the North Shore have private roads and parks, so us poorer folk settle for a park through which you can kind of see the Bay if you imagine it beyond the hills and trees.

All this reading and reminiscing makes me want to do what I never do. I want to re-read Gatsby. It’s not on my Goodreads list, but there’s something about the reach for the green light that makes me want to again reach for the book. Then I’ll start reading some stuff about Zelda, which may take me to that dangerous spot of not liking Fitzgerald or Gatsby. I’ve heard some things. They’re not that great.

Last year, I went on a short Hemingway trip. This year, it may as well be Fitzgerald.

Currently reading: So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan
Currently watching: Chelsea, The Big Bang Theory Season 9, Homeland

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