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So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures Paperback – Illustrated, May 12, 2015
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"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 GreatGatsby. 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
"So We Read On is a marvelous mix of the high and the low: solid literary criticism delivered in a user-friendly manner, coupled with the back story of the book's creation, replete with the sordid details of Scott (and Zelda) Fitzgerald's sad, unfulfilled promise."―BookPage
"Too genuine and moving to be resisted...[a] generous spirit warms every page of So We Read On."―The Boston Globe
"NPR's resident Fitzgerald aficionado delivers the college seminar we all wish we'd taken."
―O, The Oprah Magazine
About the Author
- Publisher : Back Bay Books; Illustrated edition (May 12, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316230065
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316230063
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #396,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I said earlier that the book was a promissory read. But just as Gatsby's dream did not come to fruition in the end, so to did a number of topics Maureen Corrigan hinted at in her text fail to materialize. Many times mentioned are the Gatsby films and a Gatsby ballet. But other than some detail with regards to the Alan Ladd version, nothing of substance whatsoever is developed regarding the Redford and DiCaprio versions - and there's not even a whisper about the 2000 A&E version. The wonder of it all is...why is there no discussion of any substance with regards to the cinematic Gatsby? The movies - most assuredly the Redford and DiCaprio versions - have had a powerful impact on the endurance of THE GREAT GATSBY. Just as the novel has had a great impact on cinema as well. One example, not mentioned in this book, would be Gatsby's 'green light' which surely shed some of its illumination on Charles Foster Kane's Rosebud. So given that "Why It Endures" is part of this book's subtitle, I'd much rather have read some analysis from Maureen Corrigan as to how film adds to that endurance rather than, for example, the overly detailed history of the ASE. Likewise with the often-mentioned but never discussed ballet. I really did not want to have to google it - but since, for whatever reason, nothing of it was to be found in this book, I did, indeed, resort to google.
SO WE READ ON is definitely a rewarding and worthwhile read. But be forewarned: iceberg ahead! "So we beat on..."
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.
Top reviews from other countries
-For the Fitzgerald enthusiast, even after reading The Great Gatsby several times, Ms Corrigan’s book offers some interesting insights into a number of aspects – mostly additions / enlargements on points of discussion; there is nothing really new here but still the reader comes away with a feeling of having a more comprehensive understanding of the book.
-On a completely different level, the book can be a drag on the reader’s patience; Ms Corrigan obviously feels the need to supply the reader with a lot of personal information whose relevance to the subject is doubtful – to say the least. Also, some of the subjects she touches upon are only marginally relevant to the book. Some readers may want to skip some of the later chapters in the book.
Still, anyone interested in The Great Gatsby should consider spending a few hours on Ms Corrigan’s book; a valuable read despite some of its shortcomings.