Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Realistic Fiction
Review by Jez Layman

Banned books week was September 27-October 4th, but banning books is a serious topic that should be acknowledged and fought all year long. Every year schools, churches, political groups, and many others will work to remove certain books from the shelves so that no one can read them. One such book is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which has been challenged and banned time and time again since its publication in 1925. It is listed among the top most frequently challenged books of the 20th and 21st centuries, but is also listed as number 2 on Modern Library’s Top 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century. Charges have come against this book in that it is “sexually explicit” or the language is “inappropriate,” but when today’s college student compares it with television shows and movies they watch regularly, it is likely to seem relatively harmless.

In the book, Nick Carraway moves to the big city and finds a home in West Egg along the Long Island Sound. His next door neighbor is the lavish and mysterious Jay Gatsby, a man of self-made wealth, but of unknown background. Everyone claims to know Gatsby, but few have any clue as to who he really is. Really, he is simply a man trying to impress the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan (who coincidentally happens to be Nick’s cousin). Gatsby dated Daisy before he left to fight in World War I, and when he returned he found that she had not waited for him, but instead married Tom Buchanan. Tom is an untrue husband with a mistress in the city named Myrtle, that everyone, including Daisy, knows about. All of these scandals, and more, are uncovered through the eyes of Nick, who reintroduces Gatsby and Daisy.

This is a story of romantic complications and multiple instances of cheating and adultery, but even more than that, it is a depiction and reflection of life in the Jazz Age of America, during the time of prohibition. Things in Nick’s world are always more than they seem and should never be taken for granted. The characters are life-like and can easily be found in today’s society. Everyone knows a Nick or a Daisy, a Gatsby or a Tom. The plot has its twists and turns, keeping the reader interested, and the style is like no other. Fitzgerald is a master writer of his time and of all time and is constantly ranked among the best writers of the 20th century for that reason.

The Great Gatsby is more than just an English assignment. If you read it for a class, I encourage you to read it again so that you can enjoy it without the worry of the next test or assignment hanging over your head. And if you have never read it, I encourage you even more to read this novel, as well as other banned books. In celebration of banned books, try reading something new and controversial, you might just find a new view on the world, or even just simply something you enjoy reading.

Next review will be up shortly, I'm having a friend read over it for me before I send it in. It will be on John Green's new book, Paper Towns

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