Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Great Gatsby

I worked through lesson 1 in my fiction writing class, which meant reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby is a classic, of course. A beloved classic, according to the back cover of the book. It’s also in first person and you know what that means. Under normal circumstances, I would have left the book on the library shelf. But since I had to read it for class, I took it home with me and worked my way through the first four chapters.

I’m no fan of it thus far.

I was supposed to pay attention to the characters populating the first three chapters, but I found myself distracted by Fitzgerald’s masterful description of inanimate objects:

“The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens—finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run.”

Or

“Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face….”

Or

“… suddenly her warm breath poured over me the story of her first meeting with Tom.”

He gave the lawn and the eyes and the breath a life of their own. I like how he did that. I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to do the same in my own writing.

That said, I still don’t care for the novel. The “tender curiosity” I entertain wouldn’t be enough under normal circumstances to make me read a book I don’t particularly enjoy when there is so much else I do enjoy and so little time to enjoy it in.

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