Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell
Describe it in 25 words or less. A biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby.
Any particular reason for choosing this book? I read The Great Gatsby in high school and was fascinated by it but never felt like I really “got” it. I’ve also watched both the 1974 and 2013 film adaptations. This book seemed like the perfect opportunity to really “get” it.
What was your favorite part of the book and why? The history lesson aspect especially the lists of new words of the time. It was fascinating to see what it was like at a time when America was changing and growing so rapidly and how people of the time dealt with it all. It was a very immersive experience in that regard.
What was your least favorite part of the book and why? All the name dropping. There were too many people to keep track of and it was always assumed I knew who these people were and how they were related to each other. And keeping track of these relationships through 371 pages was too much for me.
Did it grab you immediately or did it take a while? The preface really whet my appetite but I quickly got bogged down.
What did you think of the ending? Very sad just like the ending of The Great Gatsby.
Did you learn anything? There was so much information that I sometimes felt overwhelmed, but the piece of information I liked the best was that F. Scott Fitzgerald was a horrendous speller yet a brilliant author.
Favorite quote: “Photographs never did her justice, failing to convey ‘any real sense of what she looked like…A camera recorded the imperfections of her face, missing the coloring and vitality that transcended them so absolutely.’” – F. Scott Fitzgerald about his wife Zelda
What would you change? I would make it feel less like reading someone’s dissertation and more like reading a novel for a layperson.
Who would you recommend it to? Anyone who likes to overanalyze their literature and English teachers who are teaching this book to their students.
Number of unknown words: 120. I think this is a record for me and it did lessen the enjoyment of the book, but I was excited that my favorite word came up a number of times as did ersatz which I had just learned from Morgan.
Which novel would you love to know all about?