I have really grown to love the quality of Easton Press books. There is something about their leather-bound hardback books that is so pleasing. You can see from the third shelf (pictured below) that I already have a number of their books, but I signed up for their Hundred Greatest Books Ever Written club, so now they’re going to send me a new one every month. This month it was The Great Gatsby. Next month it’s going to be The Three Musketeers. Maybe I’ll review all hundred of them here.
Somehow I missed reading The Great Gatsby in high school like so many others seem to have been required to do. But it’s no surprise to me now that it’s considered a masterpiece after having read it.
The novel is a simple but beautifully written story about a bygone era that few are alive to remember today. It was the roaring twenties. Everyone smoked cigars and cigarettes. They drank whiskey like it was going out of style. They talked about nothing and they were entirely self-absorbed in their first-world problems.
The novel is likely to leave one considering the quality of people one is surrounding oneself with. It is also likely to give one pause before spending too much time thinking about what might have been. This is helpful because, although the story takes place after World War I, it’s tailor-made for the twenty-first century. Fast forward to 2019 and everybody has thousands of friends just like Gatsby did. They’re all dressed up and looking perfect in their avatars, just like they were at Jay’s parties. But underneath the surface, they have the same problems. And they all care about you and I just as much as Gatsby’s friends did about him. And I can imagine that there are people who spend inordinate swaths of time hunting down and stalking lost loves online, just like Jay did. And there is no doubt that many are running around under a pseudonym in order to escape the past as Gatsby did.
So take the hint from Fitzgerald: Be selective about who you invite into your life and live in the present. You only get one shot at each.