The Day I Forgot The Great Gatsby Wasn’t Real

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my borderline concerning annual goals is to keep track of every book I read in a given year, and make sure I read 100. It’s a goal, but it’s also fun. Reading, aside from sleeping, is one of my favorite parts of this world.

With 12 days left in 2011, I’ve only got 4 left.

Woot!

One of these four will be The Great Gatsby. Not because I haven’t read it, and not because I don’t claim F. Scott Fitzgerald is the best writer of all time (which I do), but rather because I made the borderline deeply concerning error this week of forgetting that the Great Gatsby is actually, truly, entirely fiction.

Here’s what happened:

I started reading a new (to me) Chris Bohjalian novel this week, The Double Bind. He has some great novels about topics that I love, like midwives. And murder. And homepathy. I love him.

I don’t read many novels, and when I do I remember how fun they are. The Double Bind centers around a homeless man who dies in New Hampshire, only to leave behind strange photos indicating he may or may not have been the long lost son of Daisy and Tom Buchanan — central characters in The Great Gatsby.

Around about page 50 (a guess, since I was reading on Kindle) I began to think questions like:

Wait, wasn’t The Great Gatsby fiction?

Wait, were any of the characters in The Great Gatsby real?

Wait, was Jay Gatsby actually a living, breathing person in the 1920s?

Wait, was Jay Gatsby’s former house in East Egg really turned into a country club?

Although I believe in the back of my mind I knew I was going insane wrong, I cannot be sure. And so I asked my husband, who proceeded to look at me as if I really had lost it.

Which I had.

Needless to say (announcement coming!), the characters in The Great Gatsby are fiction. And I’m rereading it before I finish The Double Bind to ensure that I remember this essential truth for at least the next 15 years (the estimated length of time since I last read it). Then I’ll add both to my list and then read two more than have reached the 100 books in 2011 goal.

#huzzah

To see my on-going (I promise I’ll update it soon) list of books read in 2011, go here.

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Comments

  1. Well, hang on. I’m afraid I’m going to contribute to your confusion. The mansion in LI that is believed to be the house that inspired The Great Gatsby was for sale. There were many rumors, including a hotel,/country club/resort scenario, about what would happen to it. It is known that Fitzgerald attended parties there, and it does, in fact, fit all of the descriptions. It finally sold this year, so this news bit is probably floating in your consciousness somewhere. The house is (or has been) being torn down and the lot is being subdivided.

  2. i just love this.

  3. Well, hang on. I’m afraid I’m going to contribute to your confusion. The mansion in LI that is believed to be the house that inspired The Great Gatsby was for sale. There were many rumors, including a hotel,/country club/resort scenario, about what would happen to it. It is known that Fitzgerald attended parties there, and it does, in fact, fit all of the descriptions. It finally sold this year, so this news bit is probably floating in your consciousness somewhere. The house is (or has been) being torn down and the lot is being subdivided.

    As a side note, Chris Bohjalian is a fabulous speaker and is really good about leveraging social media to his benefit as well as that of anyone in his orbit (which is vast). If you ever have the opportunity to tune into him talking about how writers can/should use social media, it’s pretty worth it (not groundbreaking, but a nice variation on a theme).

    • WOAH.

      This news is going to derail my whole day, leaving me haggard with googling…

      Also — I had no idea Chris spoke on social media?!??!

      He must be on the Twitters then…??

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