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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

So We Read On

How the Great Gatsby Came to be and Why It Endures
ISBN: 9780316230070
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 9/9/2014
Format: Other
My Rating: 5 Stars
It's a staple on almost every high school reading list in the country. It's a book that has remained current for over half a century, fighting off critics and changing tastes in fiction. But do even its biggest fans know all there is to appreciate about The Great Gatsby?
Maureen Corrigan, the book critic for "Fresh Air" and a Gatsby lover extraordinaire, points out that while Gatsby may be the novel most Americans have read, it's also the ones most of us read too soon -- when we were "too young, too defensive emotionally, too ignorant about the life-deforming powers of regret" to really understand all that Fitzgerald was saying ("it's not the green light, stupid, it's Gatsby's reaching for it," as she puts it). No matter when or how recently you've read the novel, Corrigan offers a fresh perspective on what makes it so enduringly relevant and powerful. Drawing on her experience as a reader, lecturer, and critic, her book will be a rousing consideration of Gatsby: not just its literary achievements, but also its path to "classic" (its initial lukewarm reception has been a form of cold comfort to struggling novelists for decades), its under-acknowledged debt to hard-boiled crime fiction, its commentaries on race, class, and gender.
With rigor, wit, and an evangelistic persuasiveness, Corrigan will leave readers inspired to grab their old paperback copies of Gatsby and re-experience this great novel in an entirely new light.

My Review

A special thank you to Little Brown and Company and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy in exchange for an honest review. (also purchased the audiobook)
So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, by Maureen Corrigan offers extraordinary insights and commentary, into the real meaning behind this timeless classic; the characters, the time, viewpoints and perspectives, symbolisms, comparisons, and interesting tidbits of this talented author, Scott Fitzgerald; inspiring readers to re-read, to experience the life of the good and the bad of this exciting era and the “American Dream”.
As a huge fan of The Great Gatsby, having read it many times, during my younger years, and within the last few years, the movie, performances, reading the book again twice, and listened to the audiobook. Have also read Z, Zelda Fitzgerald and many other books surrounding this intriguing couple.
Wow, So We Read On was outstanding! A thought provoking and compelling view with a fresh look and perspective into the symbolism between the life of Scott Fitzgerald and Gatsby character. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author; so right on, as her vast knowledge is reflective throughout the pages.
I was so engrossed, as I am a big research nut and loved Corrigan's passion and extensive insights (what a super idea going back to the high school as everyone has a different take). The entire time I was listening to this captivating book, I was thinking “Wow, Corrigan could duplicate this book with all the classics out there!” It would be incredible, as I for one would buy anything she writes.
So We Read On is a book you will want to buy (as ideal for reference, gifts, and would make a great book club choice, or for lectures, groups, etc.), as I found myself trying to make notes while listening to the audio, so need to go back and buy the e-book in order to make notes, as there is so much to take in.
I cannot possibly hit on all my notes as you have to read the book; however, some of the main items I found fascinating. Please forgive my errors, as I was trying to recall some of this from the audiobook, versus print.
The Great Gatsby is similar to Scott’s end of relationship with Zelda. Symbolic of The Price of the American Dream. The Great Gatsby is not a character driven or plot driven novel; it is a voice driven novel. Gatsby is the ultimate enigma and center of the novel.
How a junior high or high school student views The Great Gatsby, versus a mature adult (totally different), as why you need to re-read many times as you age, as the meaning is profound.
Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy; the sensationalism, stalker like behavior, and his all or nothing demands. Future – The constant green light. Daisy is a green light and a voice full of money.
Have heard many discussions regarding the significance of the past to dreams of the future. The struggle of humans to achieve goals by both transcending and re-creating the past. Yet humans prove themselves unable to move beyond the past: in the metaphoric language--the current draws them backward as they row forward toward the green light.
The isolation of Gatsby’s life, as he is always alone, similar to Fitzgerald’s life (many similarities, depending on what was going on in his personal life with Zelda and timing). Burial, etc.
The meaning behind the rainbow of shirts, the cars, the parties, the glitz, glamour, money – Does Daisy think Gatsby is becoming like Tom? What happened to the poor humble boy – is he gone?
The Great Depression (lights out), parties and black Tues 1929; good times cannot roll on indefinitely. The Great Gatsby projects allusion. A funny novel, comedy like novel.
Scott asks Zelda to draw sketches of Gatsby in order to see him more clearly (would it not be great to find these drawings)?
J Gatsby a character a 17 yr. old boy would invent-young and reckless; Older readers gravitate for a more measured and mournful voice.
Her students do not like Nick, they think he is passive and do not like the scene at the end – acts not talks. Nick is wishy washy; and kids are unimpressed.
The Great Gatsby is really the only successful book Fitzgerald wrote, and unfortunately was not appreciated until after his death.
Represents rich careless people – detached poetic style. Page for page is elaborately patterned. The complexity of the novel so overlooked. Brilliantly written.
The American Dream is irresistible, heartbreaking and buoyant. Gatsby and Daisy’s reunion took place in the middle of the novel (which is important).
Billboard and green light (symbols); patterns and narrative structure; always reaching and striving and still unable to find happiness. A hard boiled story. The novel is wildly over designed.
Drawing on the author’s own experience as a reader, lecturer, and critic; a powerful read you will not want to miss. I was blown away! Corrigan is witty and brutally honest and yes, you definitely will want to re-experience Gatsby in new more favorable light. Read both - Highly recommend!






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