I took a lot of "Advanced Placement" classes during high school, which were great classes to take in a large public school such as the one I went to, where my graduating class consisted of about 1,100 students. Many of my AP classes offered closer student-teacher interaction, the type that should be the norm at every school, but proved to be an exception at Everglades High in Miramar, Fla. It was in AP classes that I learned calculus from Ms. Woerner, and began an early interest in psychology from Dr. Schear.
It was because of that psychology class that I was determined to major in said subject in college on a pre-med track, assured I would become a psychiatrist or at least some other type of doctor, before attending my first chemistry class at 7:30am during my second semester, on a morning that was about as cold as Gainesville, Fla., gets -- roughly 19 degrees perhaps -- and witnessed a professor sprint into the classroom wearing a Hawaiian shirt and jean shorts yelling at the top of his lungs about the periodic table of elements, prompting me to calmly walk out of the classroom and toward the journalism building, where I switched my major and enrolled in significantly different courses, learning the skills that have brought you these run-on sentences.
Anyway, I start this blog with that anecdote to note that I didn't take Advanced Placement English at Everglades High. Before my senior year, I became aware of a partnership my high school had with the local community college. This partnership allowed high school students to take courses at the community college in lieu of courses at the high school. I signed up for the entry-level English class at this community college, along with a math class. Taking two such courses at the community college meant that I was able to not take two courses at high school, so I was able to leave at noon every day. The community college courses were worth the same number of credits as the Advanced Placement classes, which was absurd because the AP classes were much, much more difficult. As a result of this, I never read The Great Gatsby in my youth. Also as a result of this, I had four hours free to myself each weekday afternoon, during which I usually drove to a burrito shop for lunch then wasted my life away before basketball practice.
The book's portrayal of excess and the silly shit that rich people do when they're rich is, if nothing else, a good story about not much at all. A lot of the best stories are about not much at all and teach us a lot. I think The Great Gatsby is one of those stories. I would not abide by the notion that this is one of those novels that should be in contention for the Great American Novel, though I say that as a person who has read it only once, and as a person who has read very few of the other novels in consideration for such a title.
The characters of Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker are all very interesting, if frustrating, and this is intentional as one of the book's main themes concerns the violent downside of the achievement of the American dream during this time period. Gatsby's fate is completely unnecessary and tragic, but perhaps inevitable when the predetermined fates of the rich and poor during that age are taken into account. It's remarkable how many themes from this book are still perfectly applicable in the year 2018.
However, this will be an uncharacteristically short blog for me. I simply cannot find much to say about this book, other than that I enjoyed the story but not as much as I expected. I do think Leonardo DiCaprio was a great casting choice for Jay Gatsby. We got one of the best GIFs ever from that movie, for my money. I do expect that I'll have more thoughts about this book if I ever sit down with it again. I do think that Gyllenhaal was a very good narrator, with impressive gravitas. That is all.
The Great Gatsby is available as an IRL book and an e-book on Amazon. It's also available on Audible; if you click this link, you can get a free trial of Audible that includes two free audiobooks. Even if you cancel your trial, you'll get to keep these two books. Also: clicking on any of the Amazon links in this post, and purchasing something from them, provides a small percentage kickback to the author of the blog you just read.