May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013

The Great American Novel

The Great Gatsby is in the news again. I say “again” because I assume it made some headlines when it was published, and then again throughout the years as literature students everywhere were supposed to intuit the meaning of that dock light. Now, we have a spectacle of a film, full of glimmer and headbands and Jay-Z. Exactly as Fitzgerald intended, obviously.

Is Gatsby the Great American Novel, though? Some would argue yes. At a recent trivia night, I correctly guessed the answer to a question about Sigourney Weaver* because the phrase “great American novel” led me to Gatsby. (After also considering The Grapes of Wrath and parts of the Twain canon.) It’s the easy answer, if not necessarily the correct one.

My vote, I think, would be for To Kill a Mockingbird. A book that left me exhausted, in a good way. I didn’t even mind that one of the main characters is a child. That’s how good it was. Then again, there’s also The Scarlet Letter. And Little Women. Slices of unique times in American history. (I would mention The Good Earth but that’s perhaps the Great Chinese Novel Written by an American.)

But Gatsby? Meh. Despite my love of Art Deco and the Jazz Age in general, I just didn’t get it. I bet it’s because I’m not a party person. Or into watersports. Or a stalker (sorry, Jay, you come off a little stalker-y).

Then again, my favorite book is The Lord of the Rings, so who cares what I think?

* Turns out she took her name from a minor Gatsby character. #themoreyouknow

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