Yes, I saw the Leonardo DiCaprio film of the book The Great Gatsby, but had never read the actual work by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now, I have.

You know what? It was even sadder than the movie. It has been called the great American novel and hailed as one of the best books of all time… I can’t say I agree.

Yes, it does a great job of telling the story of corruption, of power, of American greed and of uncontrollable love – but it is so negative. It is not a rags to riches story of rising above. It doesn’t have the valiant fight of the little guy. It doesn’t show anything remotely pleasant about love.

It is an American story – but certainly not my American story.

I could see how, in 1925, it was scandalous and riveting as it gave new insight to things behind the facade of American life. It just doesn’t hold up though. Those scabs are long since ripped off and now it reads as just a sad story.

I did like some of his phrasing – it could be the language of the time or it could be Fitzgerald’s skill with the language… I am not sure, but there are some gems:

“Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away.”

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”

“It takes two to make an accident.”

“I love her and that’s the beginning and end of everything.”

“She thought I knew a lot because I knew different things from her”

“Well, there I was, way off my ambitions, getting deeper in love every minute, and all of a sudden I didn’t care.”

I am left with the desire to read more of his writing – more to see if he can write something positive rather than anything else.

The saving grace of this soul-crushing read is that it is short. The band-aid is ripped off quickly and you can move on to something better.

by Chris Doelle

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Also published on Medium.