I first read this book for English class back in the eleventh grade. After finally re-reading it now, I wonder how I ever understood it back then. Regardless of what I may or may not have taken from it, the book grabbed my interest back then and the setting excited me, and it instantly became one of my favorite books.
Even the book's cover sends chills down my spine each time I view it. To me the image is so haunting. The bright lights blurred in the distance, showing the innovation of the times yet still so desolate and unimportant.
When I read this book I long to be able to travel to Long Island Sound and party along Jay Gatsby. I can imagine the hot summer evenings mentioned, the steamy commute by train into old New York City, and the dusty, hot drive down the ashelands where Wilson's garage and the Eckleburg billboard are located.
The book brings me back to memories growing up of carefree summers spent with friends. Of course, my summers were not so lavish and wildly spent, but they were still magical, and lasted well into the late summer evenings. Two summers come to mind: the first being the summer of 2005 directly following my high school graduation. I spent the summer nearly every day with my friends, exploring Boston and spending much of our time at pools and at the beach. This was the summer I really got comfortable with all that Boston has to offer. The other summer is Summer 2006 where my two best friends and I would get out of work each night around 10PM and head to my friend's house, relax and make a quick meal, and listen to Magic 106.7 until all hours of the night. Most nights ended with me walking home alone, at 2AM towards the beach.
Those are the feelings the book revokes from me. I long to return to these carefree and enjoyable summers spent with the ones I love. Life is changing so fast, just as it does in the book, and I feel pulled along at a sickening pace. In a life where everyone is competing for success, I just want to return to former eras of my life which seemed so simple and enjoyable, just as I long to return to an era of carefree behaviors and simplicity such as the 1920s.
Next book on my list: Brave New World.