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So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures Paperback – May 12, 2015
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"Maureen Corrigan has produced a minor miracle: a book about The Great Gatsby that stands up to Gatsby itself."―Michael Cunningham
"No one is better at bringing a book to life than Maureen Corrigan. Her vividly personal evocation of Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby is at once a labor of love, the story of a quest, and a mother lode of information and insight. As a biography of a novel, it reads like a novel."― Morris Dickstein, author of Gates of Eden and Dancing in the Dark
"Second only to the pleasure of re-reading Gatsby is the pleasure of talking to someone about it, and Maureen Corrigan is the ultimate someone: boundlessly erudite, blazingly funny, and infectiously passionate. . . . As with the book that inspired it, my only complaint about So We Read On is that it comes to an end."―Susan Choi, author of My Education
"An intoxicating cocktail of talent, celebrity, gangster noir, and the vicissitudes of reputation that create a classic."― Ron Rosenbaum, author of The Shakespeare Wars
"As pleasurable to read as Fitzgerald's. ... It's smart and compelling, persuasive without demeaning other interpretations...a gorgeous treat."―The Washington Post
"We have to be thankful to Maureen Corrigan for letting us in on her intriguing love affairs with great books, as in this wonderful account of her grand passion for The Great Gatsby. She reminds us that perhaps one true promise of that elusive green light at the end of the dock resides in our creative imagination, and the intimate relationship between a book and its reader."―Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Republic of Imagination
"Corrigan's research was as intrepid as her analysis is ardent and expert, and she brings fact, thought, feelings, and personal experiences together in a buoyant, illuminating, and affecting narrative about one depthless novel, the transforming art of reading, and the endless tides that tumble together life and literature."― Booklist (Starred Review)
"A literary love letter... [Corrigan's] tone is lively and bright and her enthusiasm for the novel is infectious. You'll feel as if you're attending a lecture by your favorite prof or chatting with a brainy, bookish friend. Bursting with intellectual energy and fun facts, this paean to the 'great American novel will appeal to fans of Corrigan's book critiques and Jazz Age scholars, and will, one hopes, impel readers to pick up the brief work for the first (or fourth, or 14th) time."― Library Journal (Starred Review)
"So We Read On is a fine book on many levels, almost too many to list. This book is a love story about a book. It's an expression of love for one of the most lyrical and engaging and prescient novels in the English language. Maureen Corrigan writes not only with passion about her subject, she writes with an understanding of America and the elusive goal represented by the green light on Daisy's dock."―James Lee Burke
"Coaxing us aboard her narrative Tilt-A-Whirl, Corrigan spins us from topic to topic and back again, each revolution both reminding and enriching."
―Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Maureen Corrigan is the book critic for NPR's "Fresh Air," the Critic-in-Residence at Georgetown University, and winner of the Edgar Award for Criticism. She is the author of Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading (Random House, 2005).
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I'll have to admit, though, that I was initially put off by Corrigan's intrusiveness (in the form of her own little journeys as a "literary voyeur." I felt like skipping pages of the book here and there. She continually inserts herself into the text and discusses her trips to the Library of Congress and to her old high school in Queens, and she tells us of her having lunch with some people who are of little interest to us. And yet, ultimately, this is what I most appreciated by the time I was finished with her book----which is neither literary criticism in the traditional sense nor autobiography/essay. Let's face it, we all get tired of the same approach to Fitzgerald. We get tired of the same repeated facts about the author's life, his work and his marriage to Zelda. I liked Corrigan's book because it's so personal and because it so lovingly appreciates what Fitzgerald tried so valiantly to be and to become---and because it reveals a love of the English language that all English teachers carry with them---a deep appreciation of the written (and spoken) word, including the way Fitzgerald appreciated it, working and re-working his text tirelessly and painstakingly. Corrigan is absolutely right: some of us will never fail to be profoundly impacted by the phrases and images of The Great Gatsby---yes, and those final five pages!
Not to mention some of the responses to the novel that every English teacher has probably heard, including the one about Gatsby being a stalker!
In short, this is not a difficult read. It's not complicated or complex or even very deep. But it is very informative and entertaining---and its heart is definitely in the right place. Corrigan certainly admires the novel's beauty and its lyricism, but she does not neglect the very important core idea that the book is really about the reality of class in America---and that it condemns---not celebrates--- mass consumerism.