Back in June, we offered Nile customers copies of The Great Gatsby for only 0.99c as part of our Book Club promotion. I’m pleased to say that this particular book has attracted some interesting discussion over on the forums. With next month’s book already out for the offering, I thought I’d recap what happened last month and post some highlights from our community members.
What did everyone think of this book?
Personally, I think that Gatsby is one of those titles which polarises readers. Mark and myself, for example, bitterly disagreed about whether it was any good or not. Mark thought it was astounding. I thought it was astoundingly average.
I mightn’t be able to speak for Mark, but I can tell you why I felt the way I did. The best part of the book, for me, was Fitzgerald’s prose. It is a pleasure to read and has by and large withheld the test of time. It was simple, clear and felt refreshingly honest. I loved all the little jokes Nick (the narrator) threw in. But the simplicity of the telling of the story was betrayed by the simplicity of the narrative. Gatsby feels almost like a fable – in that the story is comprised of a whole series of unlikely events dominated by irrational, one-dimensional characters. But unlike a fable, The ‘Great’ Gatsby didn’t impart any form of moral lesson at the end. Instead we get some sort of pitiful warning about the dangers of greed. I could not believe in (or relate to) any character in this book because of their distance from reality and thus, I think, Fitzgerald’s profound statement on the American dream became a bit lost on me.
Even if you haven’t read the text since high school, I would love to know what other people thought of this book!
Okay, my views… I’ve got to say that I really quite enjoyed this book. It was very easy to read and mostly light, with a few soul-searching passages thrown in just to remind us of Fitzgerald’s intellectual status I would imagine.
The title indicated to me that I was to read about somebody who few others could compare to. In reality, it is a story of remembrance for an average man that strove to rise above his situation but was consistently hounded by his own premisconceptions on life and the reality and sincerity of other people.
The narrator character, Nick, was a stroke of genius. He was instantly likeable and directed the tale well, with his own blend of morality and humour. The second half of the book especially grabbed me as all the characters are well established by this point, and I found I didn’t want to put the book down.
Fitzgerald seemed to go to great pains to add details from his real life in the novel, certain aspects about certain real people of the time or real suburbs. I found this to be the only trying part of the book and while I was quite fascinated to learn that there was a real Wolfshiem character who was a larger than life swindler of the day, I felt that what Fitzgerald was really doing was simply name-dropping.
Would I call this one of the great American novels? I don’t know. It’s written by an American but it barely scratches the surface of america, only focusing on one tiny and superficial part of it, and therefore it isn’t a true reflection of America at all. But, I did enjoy it for what it was, despite what other people have tried to describe it as.
This book is a simple and tragic tale of a man who tried to make his mark on the world; it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is and for that reason I think I enjoyed the book more. It is a simply written tale of longing and I enjoyed it very much.
Thanks for the input, Neop. What you said is very interesting and has somewhat changed my attitude towards the book.
I didn’t like Nick so much as I liked Gatsby – and I can definitely agree with what you said concerning the novel’s titular character. I felt like Gatsby was just an average guy who had spent his entire life attempting to stand out in a world of greed and betrayal only to have the very thing he struggled against destroy him in the end. Quite poignant, now that I think about it. Nick, on the other hand, felt like a boorish vehicle Fitzgerald used to drive the story from one place to another. Nothing more.
Speaking of Wolfsheim, I felt as well that the character was out of place. Aside from the stomach-churning level of political incorrectness surrounding pretty much everything the character said or did, it felt as if this Wolfsheim chap wasn’t quite as integral to the story as he perhaps should have been. To clarify, I was expecting something terrible to happen to Gatsby as a result of his relationship with this character, but that never eventuated – even if it would have made a hell of a lot more sense than the ending which made it to publication.
Gatsby is good. It’s not particularly enjoyable, but it’s a fair read at the end of the day.
I agree with Neop here. The Great Gatsby might not have been anything fantastic, but it was a short, enjoyable story with engaging characters. It was simple and easy to read, but also tried to deal with deep themes. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good and I would probably recommend it in the future.
Interesting stuff! If you would like to get involved and get a cheap book, simply head over to our forums for further details. The Book of the Month for July is Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, which will be available for just a few more days. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a copy today and get chatting!