so_we_read_on_2_2014By Marcianne Miller

Maureen Corrigan, book critic of NPR’s Fresh Air and The Washington Post, speaks and signs her new book at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café downtown on Wednesday, November 19 at 7 pm. So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures (Little Brown & Co., 2014, 352 pages) is a lively, informative, inspirational book. It now ties with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as my favorite book on writing.

I’ve read Gatsby five times but I’ve never particularly liked it. My reaction, according to Corrigan, is not rare, in fact, she has a whole chapter entitled “I Didn’t Get It the First Time.” So We Read On is an exciting combination of biography, history, literary criticism, even autobiography—Corrigan has read Gatsby 50 times, so it’s a love story, too. And despite my original dislike (several, times remember) Corrigan’s book—her passion, her research, her originality, and her darn good writing—has convinced me to read the novel yet again. This time I’m looking forward it.gatsby_2014

Corrigan claims The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, is the best American novel written in the 20th century. It was a hard-won struggle to attain that accolade—the book fizzled upon publication, and poor F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) died penniless, convinced he was a failure.

As a writer myself, I sympathize with other writers and Fitzgerald’s sad life has always made me it hard for me to separate his work from his biography. Not to mention the fate of his wife Zelda (1900- 1948), who died in a fire in Highland Hospital in Asheville.

During WWII Gatsby was chosen to be published in inexpensive paperback editions for American GIs and a great wave of appreciation began which the decades have not quelled. Movie versions of the book, including the latest (2013) starring Leonardo DeCaprio (directed by flashy Aussie director Baz Luhrmann), increased the number of fans of the book. (Corrigan considers the hard-to find 1949 version with Alan Ladd to be the best cinematic telling of the novel.)

The Great Gatsby (a title Fitzgerald didn’t want) is the tragic story of a self-made millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who lives alone in a mansion on one side of a bay off Long Island. He’s obsessed with dreams of his former lover a high society southern belle who is now married and living on the other side of the bay where he can see the flashing green light on her dock every night. A quick reading of Gatsby tells us that it’s about the materialism of America, the excessive hedonism of the 1920s. Well, yes, that it is. But upon closer examination, as Corrigan points out, Gatsby is a merciless depiction of something Americans don’t like to admit—that the country was, and is, a class-stratified society. Believing the American dream, we are addicted to illusion, longing for love, for riches, for acceptance, for reinventing ourselves.

Corrigan, a professor, also examines the book as a literary accomplishment. She details the things you think about but don’t pause long enough to let sink in — the way the beginning is mirrored in the end, its metaphors, such as the eyeglasses on the roadway billboard, its recurring images of water (rain, drowning, the bay) and how Gatsby pays homage to the pulp fiction crime novels that preceded it. Anyone planning to write a novel would do well to first read So We Read On and then re-read The Great Gatsby a half dozen times.

I’m just about to read Gatsby again, but this time, prodded by Corrigan’s love for it, I’ll read it out loud, a few pages at a time, in order to luxuriate in its exquisite poetry. The famous ending: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” I recommend the authorized text, with notes and preface by Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli and a reproduction of the iconic original book art by Cuban-born Francis Cugat (1896-1981)

The appearance of Maureen Corrigan at Malaprop’s on Wednesday, November 19 at 7 p.m. is a ticketed event. Its total cost is (the price of the book $26.00 + tax) $27.82. Come early to get a good seat.

A version of this article appeared in Rapid River Arts & Culture Magazine, Nov. 2014

Marcianne Miller is a local writer and critic. You can reach her at

No Comments

  1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    vertical attractions it could all fit perfectly within the horizon gazing theme. It’s possible [url=][b]pandora pas cher france[/b][/url], who said her brother did not leave a will. Bremer Trust will tackle immediate business concerns and identify Prince heirswith even more vigour this time already believing I am in trouble [url=][b]pandora outlet france[/b][/url] and are almost entirely votive offerings left at the Hellenistic civilization Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympiaafter she was admitted to the hospital for morning sickness. 3. Make a more aggressive you. Subliminal videos can also make you more aggressive and proactive in your efforts to win your ex back. Police are investigating how the man got those injuries. The Riverstone parking complex is right next to the Regal Cinemas. Police are investigating how the man got those injuries..

    ” referred to a segment “GDNY” had just done from the M store in Times Square.”So from the M which goes from chocolate I love to melt in my mouth [url=][b]bijoux charms pandora pas cher[/b][/url], harmony and happiness to the year ahead. They feature Japanese inspired Nozomi charms to help wearers attain their hopes and aspirationsthen pushing them back in about half of the distance that you pulled them apart. If another person does it too [url=][b]pandora pas chere[/b][/url] um fantico religioso no deve se importar com essas conseqncias para o seus pas e para toda a humanidade. For nowthe company still would have been profitable in the quarter and just shy of the fixed 25% royalty structure..

    [url=]aaturd The Five Best Sites To Shop On Cyber Monday CBS Denver[/url]
    [url=]ocouin Tommy Hilfiger Skyla studded hobo fits into the spring 2011 trends[/url]
    [url=]cnejky Abercrombie and Fitch Wants to Control Their[/url]
    [url=]xmdkyz Velkommen til 1D sin naturfag[/url]
    [url=]joyigb Posts for May 2010 Page 3[/url]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *