This month we went all cultural with the 1920's classic The Great Gatsby. It depicts the overindulgence and materialism of the 'jazz age'. It's basically The Real Housewives of New York City/Long Island meets the Sopranoes, with lots of tricky words thrown in.
Many in the book club found the language a bit of a barrier to their enjoyment and understanding of the novel. There are certainly lots of tricky words, but I don't think Fitzgerald did this just to be annoying or show off his vocabulary. The symbolism of the language he uses and the imagery they create are what makes this work one of the great modernist novels.
At the end, just before Gatsby dies, he takes a 'pneumatic mattress' from the garage. We spoke about this being an odd way of describing an air bed and it got me thinking....Gatsby dies on this mattress, he carries it on his back all the way to the pool. The word pneumatic has spiritual connotations, Fitzgerald could be depicting Gatsby as a dying God, he could never have survived in that world and his death is almost inevitable. The air in the mattress is also symbolic of Gatsby's idea of love; it isn't tangible.
Right, that's enough of that! I might be talking utter rubbish, but I definitely enjoyed a bit of THINKING.
Whichever way you look at it, Fitzgerald definitely packed a lot in: Love, relationships, affairs, the American Dream, materialism, class and society.
I liked the bit where everyone got drunk and jumped in the pool. More gin please!