The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I actually read this in high school, and honestly - I felt kind of meh about it. It's not that it wasn't good, it just didn't leave any lasting impression on me. I have vague memories of enjoying reading about the jazz age, being super annoyed by the character of Daisy, and feeling angry about the ending and what actually happens to Jay Gatsby.
And then I saw the movie. And I loved it.
(Small disclaimer here: Leonardo DiCaprio is, to me, what *NSYNC was to my sister. He is my white whale. I will love him forever, and it is hard for him to make any movie that I do not at least appreciate. Well. Except maybe "The Wolf of Wall Street," because ew.)
I mean, come on. Look at that face. I read the whole book with that face in my mind.
But it wasn't just about Leo's portayal of Gatsby. It's the decadence, the hero worship, the unrequited love, the huge fall from grace, and the tremendous gimme-gimme apathy of people that fascinated me.
So I decided to give the novel another try. And I loved it.
I found myself underlining passages like crazy. The prose is just so dang pretty:
"There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."
“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
And, of course, the most famous line of all:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The ending is still bleak, but it makes sense to me now. I picked up a copy of Tender Is the Night, and I'm hoping it's as satisfying.