09 September, 2010

Of the best short novel ever

I read The Great Gatsby again this summer; something I do every year. It's a holiday event that never disappoints. While Gatsby  may not be the best novel ever written, I think it's the best short one. And, proportionally, it contains more beautiful sentences and passages than any of the longer ‘greats’.

One day I’ll read it in New York. Who wouldn’t want to after: “I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it — overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.”

Fitzgerald's famous final paragraphs are chromed genius. However, equally affecting are the times when the surface of the reservoir of mainly implied emotion (Tom Buchanan's rational narration keeps the lid on most of the time) is broken by small, heartbreaking bubbles.

Like when Gatsby is told that he can’t repeat the past with Daisy and he says, “Can’t repeat the past?… Why of course you can.” It makes you want to cheer.

And when, for last time, Tom sees his driven, flawed, and marvellous neighbour in whom "No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart" and says, “They’re a rotten crowd... You’re worth the whole damn bunch together.” It makes you want to cry.

Guess I’m a fan.