The Great Gatsby

Next up chronologically in terms of books I read in the past looks like The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Now as I mentioned before my mom was a misandrist and she blamed the men in women’s lives for all the troubles. One of her favorites was how F. Scott Fitzgerald drove Zelda crazy.

This next paragraph is the result of hours of research. I recently had someone say something about how bloggers just bullshit and I literally was “They don’t research everything obsessively?”

From what I’ve read, Scott may have taken advantage of any mental instability that Zelda had. It is possible that her behavior was the result of manipulation and gaslighting on the part of her husband, but it is also equally possible that she had what is now known as bipolar disorder. I have two very good friends who have both been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and they do, in fact, act a lot like Zelda is reputed to have acted. And, of course, it’s possible that both are true. That Zelda was unstable and that Scott knew which buttons to push to bring out those behaviors.

I read The Great Gatsby because it’s a classic of American literature and everybody should read it and it’s a fast read and blah blah but also I love Baz Luhrmann’s movies. I wanted to see the Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby, but I figured I should read the book first. As it turns out I haven’t seen the movie yet I. I should do that sometime.

I went on Amazon Prime last night to see if they have it, and ended up watching Marry Me instead. Oops.

Turn out that I’d have to pay to rent it. I did that once and never did rent the movie, so never mind.

One of the funniest things was a review of the movie where the reviewer said that Luhrmann totally misunderstood the message of The Great Gatsby because the movie is this big party and when the party’s over all that’s left is to pick the champagne bottles and cigarette butts out of the pool. Like, everything I had at that point read about The Great Gatsby made it sound to me like that was exactly the point.

Here’s the quote, from Connie Ogle at the Miami Herald: [T]he movie leaves you cold and weary and vaguely disgusted, like you’ve just spent a night of debauchery at Gatsby’s mansion, and now the sun is up, and it’s time to fish the cigarette butts and champagne bottles out of the pool.”

And, yeah, that is how reading the book made me feel. So Baz Luhrmann: 1, Connie Ogle: 0.

I also have a large problem with the show vs. tell of this book. Tell is winning by a lot, particularly when Nick follows up the story of Gatsby’s life with “Moreover he told it to me at a time of confusion, when I had reached the point of believing everything and nothing about him.” When does the conversation happen? We don’t know. At least if we had this conversation, I missed it. There was just the infodump and a sentence telling us when they had had this conversation.

The actual activity of the plot is so fast that you blink and you miss it. Skip the next couple of paragraphs if you don’t want to be spoiled for a hundred-year-old novel.

Nick moves to New York for a job. He ends up living near his cousin Daisy, who has married a gauche nouveau-riche guy, Tom. One of their neighbors is an enigmatic millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who had a romance with Daisy in their younger years and is basically stalking her.

They attend some parties. We find that Tom has a girlfriend, the married Myrtle. They attend more parties. We get long lists of the names of attendees. Gatsby finally tries to get Daisy to run away with him. Daisy hits Myrtle with a car, killing her. Gatsby takes the fall for it. Myrtle’s husband, George, shoots Gatsby in his pool. Nick decides that everyone in New York is a dishonest, greedy, asshole and leaves.

The end.

It’s all very heavy with symbolism, like the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, the giant eyes on the billboard, and Nick’s “you can never go home again” philosophy. Which is amusing when you consider that Nick is about to go home.

One of my friends was talking about which circle of Dante’s hell people who preferred Hemingway to Fitzgerald would end up in and I asked for permission to be put in the circle with the virtuous unbelievers because I don’t like either. My friend, amused, obliged. Needless to say there will be no Germane Amazon Link and, rather, we will have the Gratuitous Amazon Link of The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, the first book in the Kane Chronicles trilogy.

National Geographic March 2013, Part 1

Let’s see if I can get back on this horse here. I try to do NaNoWriMo every year and November is just around the corner. Hopefully I’ll be able to produce at least one blog post a day through the month (though I’ll probably keep going on the every other day pattern for posting). We’ll see what happens once we get there.

In other news, I’m still having trouble reading the issue in one tab while writing in the other, so it looks like I’ll be balancing the issue on my knee for the foreseeable future.

The New Oil Landscape, by Edwin Dobb, photographs by Eugene Richards

It’s interesting that this issue comes along in my reading just as the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline are making headlines, because fracking in North Dakota is what this article is about. Also, the induced earthquakes in Oklahoma have made news recently, though the government of Oklahoma assures us that fracking is not causing the earthquakes. Oklahoma insists that it’s from wastewater wells. I’m dubious about whether that’s for real or not, but I do think that our continued dependence on fossil fuels is a losing proposition in general.

I’ve been pricing rooftop solar and backyard wind turbines. I’d also like to convert my car to electricity some day, but Alex is trying to sell me on biodiesel.

The New Oil Landscape is a long article. I half-expected that it would take up most of the issue because it just kept going and going, taking up pages 28 through 59. I knew that there would be at least one other article because I’d already read the article on bonobos (more on that in a future blog post).

In The New Oil Landscape, we talk a lot about the people affected by fracking, including the workers and a family who were evicted so that an oil company could move their employees into their apartment complex.

Night Gardens, by Cathy Newman, photographs by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel

This is another article that’s pretty much just what it says in the title. Two pages of text on gardens at nighttime are surrounded by photographs of, well, gardens at nighttime. And the White Garden of Sissinghurst in the UK gets a mention. Sissinghurst was the first place we visited when we went on our big UK trip in 2002. The white garden was lovely, but I fell in love with the white wisteria tree hanging over the brick wall. I wish that wisteria weren’t quite so invasive, because I would dearly love to reproduce that.

Instead, I’ve planted two Texas mountain laurels, which are similar in look, although purple, rather than white (the flowers actually smell like grape candy!) but less invasive. Upon doing some research I find that there is such a thing as a white mountain laurel. Maybe something to consider for my next spate of tree-planting.