READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY is the blog to go to if you are part of The Big Read. In addition to Vigo County, Indiana, the following communities have been selected to participate in The Big Read and have chosen The Great Gatsby as the book they will be reading: Libertyville, IL, Sioux City, IA, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties of NC, Newark, OH and Charlottesville, VA. All are invited to post comments and questions on The Great Gatsby and The Big Read on this blog. At READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY we agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scottie Fitzgerald Takes Her Father's Measure

Here's what Frances Fitzgerald Lanahan (Scottie)-- Scott and Zelda's daughter --has to say about the role of writers in our society:

"Good writers are essentially muckrakers, exposing the scandalous condition of the human soul. It is their job to strip veneers from situations and personalities. The rest of us accept our fellow beings at face value, and swallow what we can't accept. Writers can't: they have to prod, poke, question, test, doubt, and challenge, which requires a constant flow of fresh victims and fresh experience."

Does she nail F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer, or miss the mark?

Scottie is on the right in this photo. Is she out of step with her famous parents? Don't be too quick to judge.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gatsby for the Grad

Out of ideas on what to say on that graduation card to the nephew you haven’t seen in three years? The one who (somewhat amazingly by most family estimates) now has his diploma in hand and is finally leaving Old Siwash U.? Because the chances are good that he spent more time playing around on the computer than reading the books assigned in his general education literature courses, here’s a not so gentle hint you could send his way.

Send him to this page on the web site “gradspot.” There he will find suggestions that a newly minted grad burdened with serious student loan debts and a serious reading deficit to match might find useful. "gradspot," in the fashion so popular today, promotes fixes based on style over substance. Here’s their pitch on handling the pesky book display problem twenty-somethings face.
25 Books That Look Good and Read Even Better
Building a sexy library

By Orli Van Mourik

“After graduating college, I found my new Ikean bookshelves filled with nothing but books from various classes in Victorian Lit (all of which were marked with a big orange “Used” sticker) and several well-thumbed copies of US Weekly. Though my collection did manage to bring to the fore a couple of potential suitor’s obsessions with Britney’s latest drinking binges or the use of simile in Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, I wanted a library that inspired sexy pseudo-intellectual banter, not just weed out the weirdos. So I started by building one book at a time, and I eventually came up with what I think is the best androgynous library for looking (and maybe even being) sexily smart.”

And which book leads this hot, I mean Hot! list? What is the sure fire open sesame book to “sexy pseudo-intellectual banter”? Right. You guessed it. It’s The Great Gatsby.

And, in homage to the reading-challenged undergrad’s staff of life, CliffsNotes, "gradspot" dishes up this breezy synopsis:

“Gatsby loves Daisy, but Daisy’s married to Tom. Tom loves Daisy, but he’s having an affair with Myrtle. Tom confronts Gatsby and Daisy. Daisy and Gatsby leave in a tizzy, mowing down Myrtle on their way home. Melodrama ensues.”

Then "gradspot" chips in with this deeply felt “Reason to read.” And don't you think Myrtle's sister would get it?

Reason to read:

“This short novel reads like an incredibly erudite episode of 'Days of Our Lives.' Fitzgerald paints an indelible picture of the glamour, gaudiness, and depravity of the roaring ‘20s that’ll make us feel a little bit better about our own drinking and carousing.”
Hope the nephew appreciates your thoughtful graduation advice. If he sees value rather than humor in this instant library recovery project, I suggest you forget about including a check with the card–-it's clear the young grad would only use the long green in the clubs. He quickly learned in college that books and reading made his head hurt more than hangovers.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Great Gatsby Public Service Announcement

This PSA supporting The Big Read has been modified for participating reading communities across the country. Do you think it catches the essence of what Gatsby is about? The readers in the PSA are all certain that they "Love this book!" but, after all, this is an ad. If you "love" this book, try writing a short PSA that gets at what you love about it. Or, on a more ambitious level, produce a video (30 sec. to 1 minute in length) that can be posted on this site. [I can download YouTube videos. That's the full extent of my technical expertise.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Great Gatsby, “Discontinued Title”

"As the cover of this 1934 Modern Library edition stamped “Discontinued Title” suggests, The Great Gatsby was never a commercial success during Fitzgerald’s lifetime. In a 1936 letter to the series’ editor, Bennett Cerf, Fitzgerald blamed Gatsby’s failure on its size, noting consumers’ preference for bulky books. Eleven years after its first publication, Fitzgerald estimated that The Great Gatsby had sold fewer than 25,000 copies in America, excluding the weak sales of the Modern Library edition. Fitzgerald suggested Cerf include the weightier Tender Is the Night alongside Gatsby in the Modern Library line (Letters, pp. 557-558). However, as this cover shows, Modern Library not only declined to pick up Tender, the publisher also discontinued Gatsby.

"The Modern Library reprint is noteworthy for Fitzgerald’s introduction, which includes his defense of his subject matter: “. . . I had recently been kidded half haywire by critics who felt that my material was such as to preclude all dealing with mature persons in a mature world. But, my God! it was my material, and it was all I had to deal with” (p. ix)."
This is from the F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary website which was launched in 1996, the 100th anniversary of his birth. The site is designed to increase awareness of a great American writer and to celebrate his writings, his life, and his relationship with other writers of the twentieth century. The website draws extensively on books, photographs, and related materials in the Matthew J. and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald at at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina. GO HERE to enjoy this amazing resource.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read Column

Gary Daily, "More than thousand copies of The Great Gatsby are circulating in Vigo County"

“Born originals, how comes it to pass that we die Copies?”
— Edward Young, 1742

GO HERE for column

Monday, March 12, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read Column

Gary Daily, "The Big Read about enticing all of Vigo County to read novel"

GO HERE for column

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can You Tell a Book By Its Cover?

"Francis Cugats painting for F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby is the most celebrated and widely disseminated jacket art in twentieth-century American literature, and perhaps of all time (see above). After appearing on the first printing in 1925, it was revived more than a half-century later for the Scribner Library paperback edition in 1979; more than two decades (and several million copies) later it may be seen in classrooms of virtually every high school and college throughout the country. Like the novel it embellishes, this Art Deco tour-de-force has firmly established itself as a classic. At the same time, it represents a most unusual, in my view, unique form of collaboration between author and jacket artist. Under normal circumstances, the artist illustrates a scene or motif conceived by the author; he lifts, as it were, his image from a page of the book. In this instance, however, the artists image preceded the finished manuscript and Fitzgerald actually maintained that he had written it into his book. But what precisely did he mean by this claim?"

Read the full and fascinating article on Cugat's cover art for the first edition of Gatsby, "Celestial Eyes: From Metamorphosis to Masterpiece" by Charles Scribner III GO HERE.

The challenging question Scribner poses remains: ". . .
Fitzgerald actually maintained that he had 'written it [the cover art] into' his book. But what precisely did he mean by this claim?"

Comments and interpretations welcomed.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read Column

Gary Daily, "Raise your own questions; make ‘Gatsby’ your book" GO HERE for column

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Did Fitzgerald’s famous kiss sell perfume or something else?

Jay Gatsby spared no expense on his parties, his rainbow of silk shirts came from England and his cream finished and silver-plated automobile makes a garage full of James Bond vehicles sound like they’re something straight off of a used car lot. And Daisy’s voice? Well, it sounds like money.

Conspicuous consumption, everything from lap dogs to gilt-edged bonds, all priced for a moment’s pleasure or the leverage of power, runs through The Great Gatsby. Maybe this Obsession commercial is about more than The Kiss and those tuning forks, stars, and blooming flowers. Or, the smell of the stuff.

Nick Carraway observes part of what all of this getting and spending might mean:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”

And then there was this assessment: "I make my money by supplying a public demand. If I break the law, my customers who number hundreds of the best people in Chicago, are as guilty as I am. The only difference is that I sell and they buy. Everybody calls me a racketeer. I call myself a businessman." – Al Capone, 1929

Any thoughts on the materialism and meretriciousness found in The Great Gatsby versus the values we live by today?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read columns

Gary Daily : ‘Time’ is most frequently used ‘excuse word’ for not reading GO HERE

Stephanie Salter : At age 82, ‘Gatsby’ still rocks GO HERE

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Bernice Bobs Her Hair"

A film version of Fitzgerald's 1920 short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" will be shown Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6:30 pm, at the Indiana State University Library. In this clip, Marjorie is instructing Bernice on how to be a "modern" young woman--especially in terms of attracting men. The story in print has a darker edge than the film version. The film opens up the story and includes more laughs. Both indicate how society and gender roles were changing in the 1920s. In interesting ways, story and film raise the question: How really different are things today as compared to the Roaring Twenties Fitzgerald depicted in his art and his life?

Read the story, see the movie. And submit comments and questions here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star column on The Big Read

Terre Haute Tribune Star --Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007

Gary Daily : "The Big Read Comes to Vigo County--and not a day too soon"

Go Here for column

Sunday, February 18, 2007

20s Charleston Compilation

Checking out this video, I’m wondering if someone who once danced the Charleston ever forgets how to kick out and shimmy about the dance floor in this ‘20s style of wild abandon. And in this age of slithering, worm-mating moves under flashing strobe lights, does dancing the Charleston constitute an adventure or is it closer to being a manic version of the latest exercise workout video?

Once, and in The Great Gatsby, this dance craze seemed to make a statement about life and society. Post your views on what that statement might have been. Or, more particularly in relation to the novel, your reading of the descriptions and significance of the Gatsby parties.

For those of you in Terre Haute and Vigo County, Charleston dancing lessons will be available for the forgetful and the adventurous at “The Big Party for the Big Read.” This party is slated for Friday, March 2. The party is free but reservations are required. This is a hot ticket so call Community Services, Vigo County Public Library (232-1113) now and get your name on the guest list.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mobile Flapper

Twenties Tube of the Week

It's hard for me to imagine Daisy on a twenties style cell phone. Maybe you can. Any thoughts?

The women in Fitzgerald's writings are often characterized as independent and determined. Do these qualities come through in The Great Gatsby?


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