"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
This summer I read "The Great Gatsby" by Baz Luhrmann. It is an excellent book full of symbolism and parties. One of the main symbols in the book is green lights. Green is the color of hope and the green light on the dock outside of Daisy's house shows the reader how hopeful Jay Gatsby is that he and she will get together again. Gatsby resembles a tan Leonardo DiCaprio and lives in a house so big it looks like it eats barns between meals. He bought the house just so he could throw giant parties in the hopes that Daisy might wander into one and be impressed with his shirts.
We don't know why Daisy is worth such obsession other than that she is richer than the ocean is wet and she looks like Carey Mulligan with blond hair. Gatsby and Daisy used to date but he had to go to war and she married a very rich man named Tom Buchanan because money talks. Tom plays polo and the field. The best scene in the book comes when he takes the narrator, who looks like Spider-Man, to a small apartment in New York City that turns into a drunken mess for the narrator, Nick. It was only the second time he ever got drunk and it was with flappers, who were like hipsters who actually enjoyed dancing when music came on.
They dance a lot because this book has an excellent soundtrack. Jay-Z and Beyonce and Florence + The Machine and the xx and Jack White all add to a sense of decadence during the roaring '20s. Gatsby and Nick argue about whether you can repeat the past but in any case you can go back to the future with music like this. That was another terrific book, by the way. They say music is the only guilt-free intoxicant but usually in "The Great Gatsby" it is combined with others such as champagne and gin and whisky and cigars and shimmy-dancers. It is all too much for Nick in the end, which is why he is in a mental hospital in the beginning, talking to a psychiatrist who has diagnosed him as depressed and "morbidly alcoholic." All of that partying usually leads to a hangover. For the United States of America, that was the Dust Bowl.
There were parts of the story that were not as effective. For one it took 143 minutes to get through it, which is a lot, especially when you have to read it in one sitting because your book report is due the next day. The characters were mostly three-dimensional but so was a lot of other stuff — everything was three-dimensional, and you feel after a while like this is just a gimmick. Luhrmann's style is very flashy, with lots of colors and motion, and opulent settings and costumes. In a book where style always threatens to overwhelm substance the choice to go with all this three-dimensionality risks turning it into a cartoon. Maybe Luhrmann wanted it that way but it makes the reader wonder whether the publisher just wanted to charge more for each copy.
In conclusion, I would recommend "The Great Gatsby" to anyone who wants to learn about New York City high society in the '20s and there's a pretty good love story there as well. This has been a classic book for many years and many men in particular enjoy it. Maybe it is because there is a little bit of Gatsby in anyone who tried very hard to succeed just to impress a woman who winds up with the polo player after all. Baz Luhrmann proves that you cannot repeat the past but you can sure go broke trying.
Congratulations Tara, beautifully written!