Hooked on Classics—Blame Mr. Haynes (Classics Week)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is about a mysterious stranger who moves into an upscale Long Island neighborhood. He’s a wealthy man who likes to throw wild and glamorous, alcohol-filled parties in the days of prohibition. It’s the best bash in town. You could say he’s the Charlie Sheen of the day—only with a bit more class and maybe a little less desire to be the center of attention. Of course, I wouldn't know that from firsthand experience. I’m just going off the new Fiat commercials. With these parties, Gatsby hopes to attract mainly one person, Daisy. Daisy is a woman he fell in love with years before and it is his hope to ignite that spark once more. But she’s married now to the rich snob, Tom Buchanan. He’s a man with old money, and a new mistress. So, who does Daisy choose? You’ll find out. This classic novel is a short, easy slide into a decadent time. I really enjoyed it.
“The Great Gatsby” movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio is scheduled to come out in May. I've already seen the preview at the theater and it looks like it's going to be a good one! So if you have not read this yet and like to read books before the movies come out, now’s your chance. You still have plenty of time. Watch the movie trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whM4wMUhN0U
You may have noticed that a few of the books recommendations, including today’s, are classics. (See Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Ethan Frome, The Yearling, Anne of Green Gables, The Picture of Dorian Gray.) “Hold the phone,” you say. “Why are you dipping into the old stuff when there’s so much new material out there?”
Blame Mr. Haynes. He was my ninth grade English teacher. At the end of the school year he gave us a reading list for the summer break. Most of the books on the list were classics. For some reason I kept the list and years later I looked at it and decided, what the heck, let’s give this thing a whirl. Slowly I started reading the books and marking them off the list. Each year I squeezed in a few classics between my other reading. Weird? Maybe. But I was curious, and it turns out they’re classics for a good reason. So now, when some of those books are mentioned here or there, I now know what they’re talking about—without looking at Wikipedia. As a bonus, it’s helped me in crossword puzzles too.
It’s true, some of them are a little more difficult to read. Some of that old descriptive writing keeps me on my toes. Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others took a little more time to read, but the more I read their styles, the more I liked them, and the easier it got. Take Jane Eyre for example. I love the line:
“…all the female Brocklehursts produce their pocket-handkerchiefs to apply them to their optics, while the elderly lady swayed herself to and fro, and the younger ones whispered, ‘How shocking!’”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847; reprint, Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1984),61.
I thought that was hilarious even though I’m not sure that was Charlotte Brontë’s intention “Produce pocket-handkerchiefs and apply them to their optics”—funny! It still makes me laugh.
The Great Gatsby, on the other hand, is a pretty straight-forward, short, and easy book to read. Enjoy!
What did you think of this book? Post a comment or email: Readinginthegarden@gmail.com