As a respite from the rigors of Moby Dick, I’m now reading The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek, a light novel about two half-sisters who have jointly inherited a beach house in Southampton. There’s a nouveau riche man with a big, gaudy house; a beautiful woman with dramatic flair; a first person, observer narrator; and the possibility of a first-edition Gatsby dust jacket (one of the Holy Grails of book collecting). The book is fun enough, and there are no whales...so far.
Here’s the book review from the New York Times Book Review, but I haven’t read it because I’m not quite finished with the book and don’t want to hear what happens.
Yesterday’s New York Times Book Review included a review of Banana Republican by Eric Rauchway, which follows Tom Buchanan’s path after he heads out of East Egg. The review wasn’t very favorable—and I’m not sure I want to read more about Tom, especially when what happens is that he ends up in Nicaragua (!!). Still, it’s a Gatsby link and so it fits right into this blog post.
Here’s the review: “In the right hands, the technique of borrowing a character from a famous work of fiction and putting him back to work can be very successful. In other hands, it’s just a gimmick. And so it is in “Banana Republican,” where Tom Buchanan’s exploits in the novel that spawned him are irrelevant. No mention is made of Jay Gatsby; Daisy never surfaces; no connective tissue links Tom with his past. This is unfortunate because in the many places where the story lags, a surprise appearance by Jordan Baker could really pep things up.”
Why pass up the opportunity to send Daisy to Nicaragua?
From the blog Buzz, Balls & Hype:
“The Great Gatsby was not popular when it was published despite positive reviews and in its first fifteen years sold less than 25,000 copies. It had been largely forgotten when and Fitzgerald died. His obit mentioned the novel as evidence of his unrealized potential and brought some fresh attention to the title.
“But then, during World War II, the Armed Services Editions - which was amazing by the way and something we should bring back, gave away a few copies of the novel to American military.
150,000 copies to be exact. And that was that.”
Read the rest here.
Just for fun, here’s Fitzgerald’s silver hip flask and his briefcase, from the Fitzgerald Collection at the University of South Carolina. Both look well-used.
Finally, for locals, this class at Politics & Prose looks great:
Wednesdays, September 22 – October 27
THREE NOVELS BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD : This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night
with Jackson R. Bryer, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland
This course will study Fitzgerald’s three best completed novels, in chronological order. The emphases in class will be on discussion of the common themes and characters they share, the development shown by Fitzgerald through his career, his fiction as a reflection of the times in which he wrote, and the fictional techniques utilized in each novel and how - from novel to novel - they were both similar and varied.
$100 for non-members, $80 for members.
Class meets for 6 consecutive Wednesdays beginning, September 22 – October 27, 1-2:30 p.m., with the exception of October 13 when the class will meet from 3-4:30
Click here for more information and to enroll in the class.