Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Great Gatsby: Would it be a popular read today?

Henry Ford Museum
I enjoyed The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald spins the language with a touch of elegance not seen in the pulp fiction stories today. Our reading mimics our life style. It has become short sound bites filled with action. People don’t want the story gummed up with text. We want a story in 120 characters.

If Fitzgerald wrote this today more than likely he would need to self-publish. The big publishing houses wouldn’t touch it. They want a fast pace and lots of action. It’s an unfortunate loss for the reader. 

Fitzgerald uses the language to its full extent. He takes advantage of beautiful poetic prose and metaphors. Unfortunately, I felt most readers wouldn't get it.

At least that is what I thought as I read the book, but I checked Amazon’s sales list. The Great Gatsby is ranked 106 on the bestseller list, and number 6 on the classics list. Wow!

Then I thought, maybe it is because of the movie. Maybe DiCaprio’s role in the movie is selling books. Again I turned to Amazon. It has been reviewed over 5,000 times, and only 5% of those gave it one star while approximately 60% gave it five stars. Most of the bad reviews were because of formatting quality rather than the content.

Readers get the story. Readers enjoyed the poetic language. They didn’t mind the slow story with very little action. They like Fitzgerald’s use of metaphors. Or maybe they like a story about the filthy rich living a life of drunken debauchery. Either way the book has been around for over 90 years, and it still sells. Who wouldn’t want to write a book with that kind of track record.

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