The Great Gatsby

Is it me, or I have missed the point of F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterwork?

Read it over the weekend for the first time, and, well, it’s a great book. Brilliantly written, a section of New York society vividly recreated on the page, and a couple of shocking events. But what’s it really all about?

I mean, this is regarded as The Great American Novel. The one. The book that defines American literature. And I just can’t see it. It’s not an innovative user of language like James Joyce’s Ulysses, or an encapsulation of physics like Newton’s Principia, or a canon like Shakespeare’s plays, or a lesson in narrative like Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. It’s just a really good book. The trouble is, I had such expectations for this little paperback that I came away deflated.

American readers: help!

A life in Outlook

It’s just struck me that my Outlook Calendar is a lot like keeping a diary.

Flicking back through the weeks and years (it goes back to 1998) each page is stacked with appointments, notes, places and people, detailing every day in my life; all it lacks is a ‘Dear Diary’ on each page. Combined with a blog, I’ll look back aged 100 and dream endless memories. Not sure all that strap-a-camera-and-a-terabyte-hard-disk stuff the MIT guys are doing is really necessary. Memories aren’t pixel-perfect, after all; they’re idealised perspectives and selected highlights, and reviewing an MP4 of anyone’s life would be 99% dull as ditchwater. Reading a diary, however, is always fascinating.