Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Brief: So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan


So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures
by Maureen Corrigan
narrated by the author
Hachette Audio, 2014
10 hours and 46 minutes
source: purchased with audible credit

Publisher's summary:
Conceived nearly a century ago by a man who died believing himself a failure, it's now a revered classic and a rite of passage in the reading lives of millions. But how well do we really know The Great Gatsby? As Maureen Corrigan, Gatsby lover extraordinaire, points out, while Fitzgerald's masterpiece may be one of the most popular novels in America, many of us first read it when we were too young to fully comprehend its power.

Offering a fresh perspective on what makes Gatsby great - and utterly unusual - So We Read On  takes us into archives, high school classrooms, and even out onto the Long Island Sound to explore the novel's hidden depths, a journey whose revelations include Gatsby's surprising debt to hard-boiled crime fiction, its rocky path to recognition as a "classic", and its profound commentaries on the national themes of race, class, and gender.

My thoughts:
So We Read On  is an interesting mix of literary discussion, F. Scott Fitzgerald biography, and memoir. It was made even more enjoyable by the author's narration. I learned a lot about Fitzgerald's life and The Great Gatsby  (both in terms of historical perspective and literary insight), and a little about Corrigan, too.  I laughed out loud when she referenced her high school senior trip to Rocking Horse Ranch in the Catskill Mountains. My class visited that same ranch several years later. I'm sure it's much nice now!

I'd say a reread of The Great Gatsby is now imminent - it's been over a decade.

Whether you're a true Gatsby aficionado or a casual reader curious about Fitzgerald and his great novel, you will find much to enjoy in this book.

My rating:


16 comments:

  1. I read Gatsby for the first time during last year, and didn't quite get its appeal either. I rated it low then but it's a book that refuses to leave my thoughts. So I guess there's something in it after all. Looks like I need to read this one to get a better understanding.

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    1. Athira - Some books are just like that, I guess. The author has read Gatsby countless times and she always come away with something new.

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  2. This remains on my shelves but I haven't gotten to it. I was thinking of passing it along to my brother, but maybe I'll keep it around a while longer

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    1. Beth F - I may have gotten bogged down in print, but her voice is familiar from NPR. It felt like I was listening to an old friend.

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  3. I love books like this but I am always torn as to whether to expend precious reading time on these types of books or on great works themselves.

    I think that it is a common problem that we often read books when young when we are unable to appreciate many important elements.

    The Great Gatsby is indeed a great book that maturity helps us to understand better. The only other Fitzgerald book that I have read is Tender is the Night which I also found to be very emotionally powerful and thought provoking.


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    1. Brian Joseph - I know exactly what you mean...and spent a lot of time trying to decide whether or not to make the time commitment to this book. I am only a casual Gatsby/Fitzgerald fan, but am still glad I read it.

      I read Tender is the Night when I was in high school and, at the time, liked it much better than Gatsby. Wonder what I would think today...

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  4. Replies
    1. Kathy - Go the audio route if you decide to try it.

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  5. I love Fitz. I am going to be reading Tender is the Night soon.

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    1. Ti - Tender is the Night is one book I need to reread. In high school I liked it much better than Gatsby. Wonder what I'd think now...

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  6. I've never been all that fond of Fitzgerald or The Great G, but any blend of literary discussion, biography and memoir is my cup of tea! It sounds like this is esp. appealing as a listen, so I shall!

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    1. Audrey - Yes, definitely try the audio. Corrigan's voice is so familiar from NPR that it was like listening to a friend.

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  7. I read everything he wrote years ago but I just don't have the desire to reread these books...but...I think I reread them then!

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    1. Patty - Some authors just seem to belong to a certain period our lives. For me, Tolkien is strongly associated with high school and college, but I don't think I'd reread him today.

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  8. I have this one and was so excited about it but have yet to get to it. It definitely will be moving up the TBR. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and how fun that you were able to visit one of the important places in the book. I listened to The Great Gatsby recently and really enjoyed it. It worked really well as an audio.

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    1. Katherine - Can you believe I've never thought of listening to Gatsby?! You've just helped me plan my next reread - thanks :)

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