The Great Gatsby
F Scott Fitzgerald
London, Everyman's, 1991, 148p
As an English graduate, I am ashamed that I have not read this novel in the past. The Great Gatsby is emblematic of it's time, portraying 1920s New York as the centre of materialism and wealth.
Narrated by Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald's novel tells the tale of Jay Gatsby, party host, socialite, and subject of many rumours. Those in Gatsby's circle are living the American dream - wearing expensive gowns, drinking champagne through the night, exploiting the possibilities of wealth and privilege. Underlying this descriptive element is a tale of romance, as Gatsby embarks on a conspiracy to be reunited with his past love, Daisy.
Carraway's tale is one of few characters and little drama, excepting the rather unexpected fall from grace at the end, which I shall not spoil. Through his narrative tone, Carraway is quietly critical of all that Gatsby's guests represent - many are uninvited, few actually know the host, and all speculate on the truth of gossip suggesting he's a German spy, or perhaps he's killed a man. Few of these wealthy elites seem happy with their lot, though by appearance they have achieved the American dream. It reminds me of American Psycho (just with slightly less sex and murder), with Patrick Bateman's tireless hatred of the life that he leads, and the ideology of consumerism that overwhelms society.
You float through this novel on a bed of Fitzgerald's words - he uses the most romantic language to describe the parties and people. He perfectly captures the Jazz Age, contrasting it's beauty and excitement with horror and dissatisfaction.