UYC’s Book Club: The Great Gatsby

When I saw that Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version of The Great Gatsby was playing in the Summer on the Hudson’s Outdoor Movie Fest, I thought it was the perfect book to choose for July…then combine the book club into discussion + movie!  Something so magical about watching flappers do the Charleston over the Hudson River, right?

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Like many of us, I first read the book back in high school as required reading for 10th grade English class.  Honestly, I can’t remember loving it then (but then again, the only “required” reading I really did adore back in high school was Catcher in the Rye…typical.)

This time around, however, I totally got into it.  Maybe it’s because I’m practically 2 decades older and wiser…maybe it’s cause Baz did such a fabulous job with the movie the book jumped out in vivid technicolor…probably a combo of both.  Plus I just totally dig the history of the Roaring 20’s, so that made it extra interesting.

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A few questions we pondered over at book club:

1. Did you find any of the characters likable?

Ok, ok, I realize I’m a bit of a sentimental schmuck, but I really loved Gatsby.  Yes, his dreams of building a life with Daisy were grandiose and far-fetched (to be polite), but I did admire the spirit behind it.  It’s rare these days, yes?

2. Think about the two worlds, the Midwest and the East, as Fitzgerald describes them, and what they represent for Nick and for Gatsby.

I think Gatsby used the East as an escape from the Midwest…never looking back, starting fresh and building an empire.  Nick, Tom, and Daisy on the other hand, had a kind of sentimentality towards the Midwest.  Perhaps the difference comes from New Money versus Old Money?  They knew they had a life to go back to anytime in the Midwest (a beautiful life, at that), whereas Gatsby had no intention of ever looking back.

3. An American classic for a reason, the book is highly quotable.  Do you have a favorite quote from the story?

My favorite passage of the book is when Nick is describing the illustrious Gatsby:

“He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly.  It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.  It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.  It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book below, and make sure to join us next month for our discussion on Primates of Park Avenue. Between now and then feel free to share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #UYCBookclub!

p.s. in case you missed it, our Gatsby-style Engagement Party!

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