Saturday, January 14, 2012

Great Gatsby Read-Along Week 2: The plot thickens

I've spent this whole week making the social rounds in my hometown, which I haven't visited since November 2010. I tell you this so you'll have mercy on me when you discover that I can't seem to form a coherent thought. I feel as though I've had too much champagne at a Gatsby party.

Let's do this thing.

I love that Jordan drags Nick all around the mansion looking for Gatsby and then doesn't even tell him that the man of about his age at the table where they sit is, in fact, Gatsby. Good job, Jordan. Way to make it awkward.

So Nick sort of embarrasses himself by talking ABOUT Gatsby TO Gatsby, but at least he doesn't say anything insulting before he knows who he is. For someone who has consumed two bowls of champagne, that's a small miracle.

Speaking of Gatsby gossip, these crazy party guests can't stop talking about the host, but they know absolutely nothing about him and don't really care to find out the truth. As far as they're concerned, "he's just a man named Gatsby" (p. 48) who throws big parties and may or may not have gone to Oxford and may or may not have killed a man---a curiosity, not a human being. And he doesn't seem overly interested in them either. He isolates himself, physically and psychologically.
"I wondered if the fact that he was not drinking helped set him off from his guests, for it seemed to me that he grew more correct as the fraternal hilarity increased." (p. 50)
And that leads nicely into the three-page drunk-driving PSA. The library dude doesn't even make it off Gatsby's property before the friend he came with drives them into a ditch. Then all the party guests have to explain to the wasted driver that his wheel has separated itself from the vehicle and no more driving will be happening. And no one is AT ALL concerned that he's drunk off his rocking horse . . . they just think maybe he shouldn't try driving at night. These people make a pretty good case for prohibition.

This is another moment where Gatsby's isolation is highlighted. While everyone is gathered around the car in the ditch, Nick glances back at the house as he heads home.
"A wafer of moon was shining over Gatsby's house, making the night fine as before, and surviving the laughter and the sound of his still glowing garden. A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host, who stood on the porch, his hand up in a formal gesture of farewell." (p. 55)
Doesn't that make you want to cry for poor Gatsby? Of course it does. As it should.

So Nick's friendship with Gatsby blooms, but he realizes there's not anything especially unusual about his new friend. "My first impression, that he was a person of some undefined consequence, had gradually faded and he had become simply the proprietor of an elaborate road-house next door" (p. 64).

But, Nicholas, you're so wrong. Gatsby is much more than just a little man in a big house. He DID go to Oxford, and then he hunted things (animals and rubies and other twinklies) and painted things and tried to forget about The Very Sad Thing that happened to him. He also fought things in a war. He even has mob connections. Aren't you sorry you ever doubted him?

There are some hints that he may be engaging in some sort of nefarious activity with a man named Wolfsheim, who really can't be trusted. I mean . . . that NAME. And his cuff links are made from human molars. So there's that.

And The Very Sad Thing (not to be confused with The Terrible Awful) is that Gatsby dated Daisy when he was a lieutenant, and for some reason not yet revealed she married Tom instead. She wasn't thrilled about marrying Tom. In fact, Jordan says that she nearly didn't make it down the aisle and had a ROYAL temper tantrum right before the wedding. But after they returned from their honeymoon, Daisy was so attached to Tom that she couldn't function when he left the room. Intriguing.

Gatsby bought the house across the bay from Daisy so he could keep tabs on her, but he has lived there for 5 years without ever speaking to her. This is a case of something that SHOULD be really creepy but somehow comes off as sweet. I think?

Nick seems to approve of this revelation. "He came alive to me delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor" (p. 75). So Nick arranges for Daisy to come over, and Gatsby is finally able to see her without Tom's hulking mass coming between. And whatever they talk about makes Daisy cry and cheers Gatsby up considerably.

Just one more tiny thing before I succumb to sleep's sweet embrace. When Nick is out walking with Jordan, after she tells him about the Gatsby/Daisy saga of doomed love, he has a phrase running through his head: "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired" (p. 79). It doesn't make immediate sense in context, but I think it must be important. Sorry . . . that's all I've got on that.

Also, Nick decides without any lead-up that he and Jordan should exit the friend zone, just because he has nothing better to do (or no ONE better to do, as the case may be).
"Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs, and so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms. Her wan, scornful mouth smiled, and so I drew her up again closer, this time to my face." (p. 80)
It must be love.

*Passes out*


  1. As the Crowe Flies and ReadsJanuary 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    Oh, I was chuckling all whilst reading your review this week.  Brava!

  2. I should blog while delirious more often. ; )

  3. Okay I, too, was perplexed by the thing about the pursued and the pursuing and the busy and the tired. First because I couldn't figure out the significance of it, and I know there must be some, and second because I couldn't figure out for sure which category I fit into, but after some yawns I discovered I am The Tired.

    Also. I think this thing with Nick and Jordan at the end, with the kiss, is downright hilarious. I especially love his description of her mouth as wan and scornful. MMMM gimme. LOL.

  4. Love your header...that is too cute.  Haven't visited before...nice blog.

    Meanwhile…..Book Review and also a Giveaway on my blog if you care to stop.

    Stop by for a Review of DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK and a Giveaway of THE WICKED WIVES.


  5. I think I may be The Tired as well...and also The Busy. One naturally leads to the other, I suppose.

    And YES! The kiss was so UNromantic, especially since it happened directly after they talked about how hopelessly romantic Gatsby is. It was kind of like, "Well, I guess you'll do for now."

  6. Did you know that there's an opera version of The Great Gatsby? It's not supposed to be very good.

    And there ends my contribution.

  7. I did NOT know that. I have filed this new knowledge under "Things That May Save My Life if Challenged to a Trivia Death Match."