First, a confession – I read this over the course of several months, after picking it up for £1.75 in a “bookshop” in Soho (I genuinely thought it was a bookshop…)
Anyway, it never really grabbed me, but it’s one of those books that one should have read, so I kept picking it up in a spare 10 minutes and reading another chapter or two. The result of this is that my sense of who all the characters were and how they were related was a little bit tricky. Which in a book like this, is probably important. I’m currently reading the introduction, which should help fill in a couple of gaps, like who was supposed to be representing the working class of America, and exactly who the Buchanan’s were – old money? New money?
It made for interesting reading in the current financial climate, though, and it’s probably possible to draw parallels to modern America, if you know where you’re starting from. And if you know enough about modern America, which I probably don’t.
It’s a very slim book, but filled with a lot of excellent descriptive imagery – plus of course, the allegory which is presumably very neat, or it wouldn’t be regarded as the classic it is. I don’t feel especially enriched by having read it, but I can cross it off my list. Or maybe I’ll come back to it one day and read it in a more sensible way.
DH Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, also post-war, and probably an allegory too, although I only read it for the rude bits (not worth it). Check out Spike Milligan’s versions.
JD Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, another American book that one should have read, but more enjoyable. I found it that way, at least anyway.
(And both of them are written by people with initials instead of names, just like F. Scott Fitzgerald.)