July Projections

Jazzagejuneposter

Thanks to all who participated in #JazzAgeJune, including those who commented on posts. And thank you to Fanda for her support and her wonderful design of the poster. I very much enjoyed the discussion on my blog of The Great Gatsby and the varied responses toward the book. I wonder how those in 2120 will respond to it and if it will hold up as the quintessential book of the Jazz Age? Fiction Fan is hosting a readalong of Tender is the Night for later in the year and I am thinking of joining.

June was a slow blogging month, but I was busy reading. Along with reading and reviewing The Great Gatsby, I finished The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni and started The Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I am pleased that I am reading more contemporary novels, fantasy and nonfiction this month as my two trips to the library for curbside pickup reflect:

Novels

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The City we Became by N.K. Jemisin
The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley
The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams

Nonfiction

The Lady’s Handbook for her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey
The Monk Within by Beverly Lanzetta
Hill Women by Cassie Chambers

And the big question: Will I finish the last of my Classics Club selections before September 13th?

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
Middlemarch by George Eliot
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I am also doing a slow read through G. de Purucker’s, The Esoteric Tradition.

Reading Events

A foreign language challenge hosted by Lory at The Emerald City Book Review. Although I am still so new at Spanish studies I am going to try the Spanish translation of Abel’s Island–La Isla de Abel, by William Steig.

That’s a lot of reading! Wishing you all a safe summer full of books and bikes and whatever you likes….sorry….🤭

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The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…. 

 

gatsbyIf I didn’t feel obligated to read this book for Jazz Age June, I probably would have stopped reading it at some point–not because it was boring, badly written or uninteresting. It’s because it made me feel empty, just like the characters the book portrays. I am a visceral reader and an emotionally affected reader. I just didn’t want to feel so void of the life force as I turned page after page. But The Great Gatsby is so well-regarded as an anthem to the Jazz Age, the quintessential look at the Roaring Twenties, that I felt it right to finish. And I suppose, in the end, I am glad I did.

The book is narrated by Nick Carraway, who moves into the house next door to Jay Gatsby in West Egg, Long Island, New York. Gatsby is a mystery, both as to his present life and his past. Almost everything anyone knows of him can be contradicted by what the next person thinks he knows. Is he an Oxford man or not? Did he fight in the war or was he really a German spy? “He’s a murderer, you know.” “No, he could never have killed anyone.” His car is huge, his house is huge, his Saturday night parties fill his home to the brim with people he doesn’t know and he feeds them only the best food. But his business dealings are shady and probably illegal and no one really knows how he makes so much money.

Nick has a cousin, Daisy who lives with her husband Tom across the bay in East Egg. Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson, whose husband owns the gas station in West Egg. Gatsby and Daisy were in love with each other five years ago, before he went off to war and so she married Tom, but both have carried a flame for each other ever since. Some of the more touching moments of the novel have to do with Gatsby’s nervousness in seeing Daisy for the first time in all these years, but their affair ends with a tragedy that almost feels like karma.

It’s funny how reading has gone for me this year. Several times I have read books back to back with main characters with the same first name, similar themes or similar odd word usage. This book and recently The Glimpses of the Moon have much in common theme-wise (and first name-wise) when it comes to relationships. I am not a prude and am all for finding true love, but in both these books the idea that marriage vows have meaning is certainly put to the adultery-test. And the bit of comical hypocrisy when Tom, who is having an affair with Myrtle, becomes incensed when he suspects Daisy is seeing Gatsby, is not lost on me.

There isn’t much narrative to the novel, except for the narrator, Carroway. He’s come to New York after college to start his accounting career and finds himself involved in the myriad dramas of the people around him. He is the moral one, the “good man,” the voice of the adult while the adolescents break the rules to their peril. They act like they’ve been shut up for years and finally found the way out of the chains of the straight and narrow prison that held their thoughts and feelings in check. Without restraints everything they do is in excess and through a restless lens. I couldn’t help but feel this emptiness in their motivations and that their hearts were devoid of the spark of life.

This novel supposedly illustrates the effect of the new found prosperity and personal freedom of post-war America in its loosening of boundaries between people in all aspects of life; the notion of the self-made and re-made “man” that is grander than anything before it. But with this freedom Fitzgerald shows that people can act with incredible selfishness and indecency leaving human wreckage in their wake.

I found this a profoundly depressing book. Even though Nick is the shining light in an otherwise morally bankrupt universe, I am still left with a void. I find it hard to believe this book is the ‘quintessential social commentary’ of America in the 1920s. If that were really true how did we survive the decade!

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Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Scribner Classic
Device: Paperback
Year: 1925
Pages: 182

#JazzAgeJune! Link Post

Jazzagejuneposter

Welcome to this very special June where we celebrate the Flappers, Art Deco, silent movies and ‘talkies,’ brilliant books and maybe a gangster or two during that crazy decade, the 1920s.

Participation is easy–this event is not strictly about books: films, plays, music, sports, pop culture and anything else you can think of that happened in the 1920s is game. Then post on your blog, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #JazzAgeJune and we’ll retweet or like you. In the comment section below you can also share links to your social media posts.

Thanks for joining in and have fun!

Laurie and Fanda

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If you need some suggestions, try these:

Goodreads, books published in the 1920s

Stylist, 50 best books of the 1920s

Penguin, books that defined the 1920s

UC Berkeley, Nonfiction

Plays, written or performed in the 1920s (click top of page for succeeding years)

Pulitzer winners

The Newbery Medal for children’s books

#JazzAgeJune A Reading Event!

Jazzagejuneposter

 

“The restlessness approached hysteria. The parties were bigger. The shows were bigger. The pace was faster,…the buildings higher, the morals looser.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

I am teaming up with Fanda of Fanda Classiclit (and creator of the wonderful poster above) for Jazz Age June, a reading event from June 1-30, that explores the 1920s through literature and other arts.

While 2020 has certainly taken a turn no one could have expected, the 1920s began eerily similar as it recovered from its own pandemic. But as the decade progressed it boasted some of the best in worldwide literature, poetry, dance, theater, women’s fashion and new technologies that revolutionized home and community.

This is an easy event to participate in…just read! Or watch a film, read a play, listen to music or watch a dance performance, then write about it on the social media of your choice. Anything published, produced on stage, opened in a gallery or museum or film released from 1920-1929 qualifies.

With the hashtag #JazzAgeJune we will retweet you or repost from your blog, Instagram or other social media, just tag me. And on June 1st I will put up a blog post where you can link your post or other social media in the comment section.

I am starting out the month with my Classic Club Spin, Edith Wharton’s, The Glimpses of the Moon (1922) and later in the month I’ll post my impressions of The Great Gatsby.

If you need help getting started, some of these lists might help.

Goodreads, books published in the 1920s

Stylist, 50 best books of the 1920s

Penguin, books that defined the 1920s

UC Berkeley, Nonfiction

Plays, written or performed in the 1920s (click top of page for succeeding years)

Pulitzer winners

The Newbery Medal for children’s books

Hope to see you in June!

 

 

“Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise.” — George Gershwin

“You are all a lost generation,” Gertrude Stein quoted in Ernest Hemingway’s, The Sun Also Rises

“I don’t want no drummer. I set the tempo.” — Bessie Smith