“Gatsby turned out all right in the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I still have my copy of The Great Gatsby from high school. The deep blue cover, the eyes, the tear, and the red lips over the carnival; the pages marked with my curly-cued handwriting, once in pencil, then in blue pen, then black. All the times I’ve read it over the years—far more than the layered ink would suggest—are marked in dog-eared pages, newly cracked spines, and epiphanies.
It was Fitzgerald’s introduction with the reliable narrator, the one looking in on a world not his own, moving through it but not fully participating it, judging it but in the dark places of his heart wishing to be a part of it, that drew me in and continues to astound me with its brilliance. My love of Gatsby marked something for me in my relationship with reading and writing. It cemented that I wanted to make someone feel the way I felt when I read Fitzgerald’s book. I had always dabbled in poetry, plays, and songwriting, but the idea of the novel—a small, self-contained world of experience, either outside of what I knew or connected to what I had lived—began courting me and hasn’t loosened its hold since.
Since The Great Gatsby, I’ve been moved to tears, exclamations, exhalations, and other emotional reactions from A. S. Byatt’s Possession, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Jane Austen’s everything, and countless others. There is nothing like a good book to comfort, challenge, or change a world view, and my favorite books are those that, even after their characters have been dragged through the muck of life, show the triumph of the human spirit in all of its beauty, or its dogged determination to push onward. Books that summarize that meaning for us the way that that The Great Gatsby does with its famous last lines…
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
We’re giving away a copy of Erika’s novel, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, today. Just leave a comment on this post and we’ll enter you in our random drawing.
In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match…and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.
When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation…even as the reliable Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway, or find a way to claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths…and the possibility of losing everything she loves.
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.