The Great Gatsby Times Three
Posted by: Gary Niebuhr
The Greendale Public Library where I work just did our annual fall (or in this case, winter) book discussion and this year we decided to do The Great Gatsby. We did not pick it for this reason but Gatsby is one of The Big Read titles from the National Endowment for the Arts.
One of the reasons why I enjoy these discussions so much is that I am not the leader. It is one of the rare times I get to sit back and discuss a book without worrying about body language, facial expressions, and whether the chairs should be around a table or in a circle.
The second reason I enjoyed this discussion is that Gatsby is a great book. It is full of twists and turns that take a discussion in a zillion different directions. Because it is a book that reveals new things each time you read it, it creates new avenues of approach each time you crack the book. For me, this time, I discovered that I do not really like Daisy. Nope, not at all.
The third reason that this is a great book discussion book is that it is short.
We had eighteen at our discussion this time and that is more than we normally get. One aspect of the discussion was how the two filmed versions of the book also enhance the experience of the story.
That made me think about novels into film discussions (which ironically also happened to be our staff discussion topic for December–see my previous post on Push and Precious). So I dove into both the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow version from 1974 and the Mira Sorvino/Toby Stephens TV movie from 2000. For me, neither of these filmed versions of the story captured the essence of the novel despite both using the voice over narration of Nick and actually passages from the book. This is interesting and also a good reason to combine the novel with the filmed versions for the discussion.