About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Monday, 26 March 2012

A Review of The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is one of those novels that I have always known of but never read up until recently. As is common with most works deemed to be classics I knew a little of its subject matter without really knowing how I had come upon that knowledge. With regard to F.Scott Fitzgerald, I learned a little about him from a John Steinbeck biography and that was about it. I have found that there are so many links between so many authors, both in terms of their work and their lives, that there always comes a point where you are compelled to learn a little more. Thus it was for me with The Great Gatsby. The fact that I have just got a Kindle (thank you Mum and Dad!) and the fact that The Great Gatsby was free to download, certainly nudged me in the right direction!

On the surface, and perhaps one of the reasons why I had never been drawn to the novel, the ups and downs of well-to-do folk in Long Island during the 1920's boom is as far away from the stark realism of John Steinbeck and the impoverished life and death soul struggles of Jack Kerouac as you can get. If you are new to this blog you may not know that these are two of my favourite authors. But I guess as you grow you become just as interested in the shades of grey as in the blacks and the whites that confirm your moral and cultural stance.

Reading The Great Gatsby I feel I have taken a step forward in many ways. It is not a long novel and not really much happens. You don't really get to know too much about the main characters nor really get to have a fondness for any of them. Despite all that, and perhaps in part because of it, I found the book to be wonderful.

Nick Carraway narrates the events of the summer of 1922 during which he meets Jay Gatsby and participates to a degree in the story that unfolds. The subtlety of the novel is its heartbeat. Each line is so well crafted, just tempting you to see what is implied as well as what is written. If I were to use one adjective to describe it then that word would be 'sparkle'. It is a hard, uncompromising tale of rich people falling apart, the story of people who can overcome anything so long as material possessions abound - even taking the life of another or being married to someone you don't love.

Inbetween all the perfect descriptions and genteel mannerisms of the main characters there are outbursts of violence that really do make you gasp. Tom Buchanan, a brute of a man, takes Nick with him to an apartment in New York where Tom has his away days with his mistress. Another couple are invited and a drunken party ensues. Then Tom's mistress begins taunting him about his wife and...

"Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand."

Literally stunning.

The novel seems to me to be an allegory of the capitalist dream, that constant pursuit of some definable attainment that tells everybody else you have 'made it.' Gatsby, on the surface, has made it. He has an amazing house and throws lavish parties for complete strangers yet the foundations are built on lies and deceit. Even the love he has for Tom Buchanan's wife is as superficial as he believes it deep.

The tragedy that befalls Gatsby at the end almost feels superficial to the real tragedy that F.Scott Fitzgerald has laid before us - that it is not just Gatsby and the Buchanans who ruin the lives of others, it is the very ethos behind their acts that continues to this day; the pursuit of power and love by means of wealth.

Needless to say, the book fair blew me away and, ironically, served to confirm my moral and cultural stance. Well who'd have thought it?!

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