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
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.
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.