I still think it’s funny that I didn’t read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in high school or even in college as an English major. I didn’t even read it when one of my brothers handed me his copy and said. “I can’t believe you haven’t read this yet. It’s one of my favorites.”
I tried reading it then, but I only got through the first 40 pages, not realizing the best was yet to come.
No, I didn’t read The Great Gatsby until it was time for me to teach it. Once I read it, I fell in love—not puppy love, not a crush, but a deep, long lasting love. I taught it every year after that (with my brother’s copy—I still haven’t returned it).
Each time I read the book over, I’d fall in love again, finding something new I liked about it. A new line would resonate and each time I got to the end, my heart would break a little more.
When the class was done reading it, I would whip out the VHS tape of the Robert Redford 1974 version of the movie. Never one to show lots of movies in class, this was one of the times I made an exception.
That’s why when I heard that finally the movie was being remade, I was overjoyed. And when I heard about the cast? I was right on board. In my wildest dreams, this was the cast I would have picked. I swear Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio were always thrown out there in my classes’ heated debates.
I marked my calendar. I watched the trailer. I made my students watch the trailer with me. I counted down. I reread parts of the book.
And yes, I went. Opening day. Front row. Phone off. Eyes riveted.
What can I say? I thought it was amazing, Old Sport. Stunning in every way. I didn’t look away from the screen once.
It still seems like not enough. Yes, I’ll probably see it again and buy the DVD when it comes out. But I can’t help but notice that I’m not the only one excited about Gatsby and I’m on board with seeing it everywhere.
Want to be sucked into a fictional portrayal of Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda? Read the new novel Z, by Therese Anne Fowler. I’ve started it and I’m in.
Need some specialized attire? Go to Out of Print where they carry limited edition Gastby t-shirts along with their usual tote bags, sweat shirts and phone cases. Click on Gatsby Headquarters to see their fun word association character game and the pictures people have sent in showing off their love of all things Gatsby. (A Gatsby tattoo!) Before you leave the site, play the Gatsby video game. When enough points are accumulated, a book is donated!
Maybe you want to make Gatsby come alive in your own living room. Throw a 1920s themed Gatsby party. They’re catching on, especially since the accessories, jeweled headbands and flapper fashion from that time is coming back.
I think it’s inspiring when someone or something—a book, a movie, a song—can touch you in an inexplicable way and stay with you, like a permanent imprint. I think in some ways it’s those people or those somethings that make life special, unique. It’s what touches our soul and binds us to another’s.
Thanks for joy in watching the book come back to life in this new version. Who says “you can’t repeat the past?” 🙂