The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous, menacing road of a new decade.
It was seven o’clock when we got into the coupé with him and started for Long Island. Tom talked incessantly, exulting and laughing, but his voice was as remote from Jordan and me as the foreign clamour on the sidewalk or the tumult of the elevated overhead. Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty – the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there was Jordan beside me, who, unlike Daisy, was too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age. As we passed over the dark bridge her wan face fell lazily against my coat’s shoulder and the formidable stroke of thirty died away with the reassuring pressure of her hand.
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.
I read this Great American Novel through once and was affected only by this one passage. On the strength of it alone, I read The Great Gatsby through again, trying to find the allure of these words in all the others. But Fitzgerald gave a story that was compelling only after it was finished, not while it was being told. There is no beauty in this book, only truth.
No one ever knew who Gatsby was. Some said he had been a German spy, others that he was related to one of Europe’s royal families. Nearly everyone took advantage of his fabulous hospitality. And it was fabulous. In his superb Long Island home he gave the most amazing parties, and not the least remarkable thing about them was that few people could recognize their host. He seemed to be a man without a background, without history; whose eyes were always searching the glitter and razzmatazz for something … someone?