I don't write as much as I should in this blog, as sometimes I wonder who cares other than the people I see every day anyway. I don't meant that to sound depressive in a adolescent sort of a 'no one cares, it's pointless, why am I here' kind of a way, though that is the heart beat of my existence most days - but in a 'well, I'm not famous yet so no one really cares yet but they might one day' sort of a way.
Leaving that aside, I am writing a blog tonight because I am doing the most important part of a writers job, finding something else to do rather than what I should be doing. Which is odd, really, seeing as I love writing, so this is not a procrastination because of fear of work sort of a thing, but rather that I am bloody knackered tonight and I need some chill out time before I begin writing. Which is also odd, as I am choosing to write as a way of relaxing before I build up the energy to....write. Yes, well, I suppose that's only like a sprinter doing some warm up exercises really.
Anyway, I have just finished reading 'The great Gatsby' or at least listening to it on audio book. I love audio books, not least because they are the only chance I get to read these days as I am otherwise either writing my self or using both hands so can't hold a physical book, and also because I firmly believe that the key to all great writing is that it should be great reading also, and the quickest way to spot the difference is to listen - bad writing honks like an out of key tuba where as good writing is sweet as a symphony and should slip without hesitation into the mind of the listener. As I am working on the next and we hope basically final draft of my book 'And so we left for Paris', I am building up to reading the whole 100,000 words out loud, and may well record myself doing so to ensure that my work is as note perfect as I can get it - though there's nothing to say I'm not tone deaf, until THE AGENT agrees with me. That's the one who's waiting to read it, the one who's asked for the whole thing, so this is rather a big deal.
Any-ho - my brother hates the Great Gatsby, which is probably the result of being made to study it, a sure fire way to beat the joy out of every novel. He was also 17 or so at the time, and I think that perhaps it is a book you need to read when you're older, because you need to have had a few obsessive love affairs and reached that weird sense of failure mixed with ennui that only the onset of your thirties can bring - or maybe it was never quite his thing. He felt that everyone in the book is basically nasty and so why should we care about them - well, none of them are great as the title would suggest, but there is sympathy to be found in Gatsby himself, and for me, Daisy also.
Daisy is not likeable and not admirable, but very real. She is of course a poor little rich girl, the unwilling subject of Gatsby's obsession and trapped both in a loveless marriage and Gatsby's fantasy of her. She almost gives into Gatsby, plays along with his obsession because she's so lonely and sad in her own life, but she doesn't really love him and that sense of wanting to be loved but not by the person who loves you, came across to me clearly.
Why is it heralded as THE great American novel? Well, it is pretty amazing - though I'm not sure it's quite as seminal work as others claim it to be, despite Richard Fords reference to it in his book 'Canada' which I think is actually a greater book. It does show America at a time when it really was at the apex pf the world, where everything seemed possible after the first world war ended and before everything fell apart with the depression - a gilded time which was as insubstantial as Gatsby's dreams of Daisy. It also gives the lie to the American dream, that any man can rise to the highest position in society if only he works at it - as it underlines that no matter how a man like Gatsby tries, he'll never be an equal to those born to their position, such as Daisy's husband Tom. That's the real illusion that Gatsby chases, that he can cheat the system for real.
I think I'd quite like to write the story of how Gats became Gatsby, though I imagine someone else has got there before me, the story which is partially revealed throughout the book in hints and rumors, but that's for another project. The book made me think of Evelyn Waugh and his writing of the same period, there is I feel great similarity in their styles and the apparent easy gloss of the writing which hides something darker and more substantial underneath. It certainly makes me want to read more F Scott Fitzgerald, and there are images from the book which will stay with me for a long time - not least the giant eyes of the disheveled opticians billboard that over looks the sooty wastes of Queens and, like some comic god, looks down on the tragic events that lead up to the end. It's a great piece of dark humor, and for me hit all the right notes, like the sound of one of Gatsby's parties drifting over the lake.