Considering Gatsby

0239 It’s a nice cloudy morning, thank the gods. I was getting tired of that sunshine crap so early. It’s the Pacific Northwest, we pale mushrooms can’t take that sort of thing.

I’m ambivalent about the upcoming Gatsby film. The costumes and the party scenes are probably going to be divine, but I’ll most likely spend the entire thing annoyed at diCaprio and Maguire. Even going to Cinetopia and drinking my way through the thing doesn’t seem like a good idea. I might as well just Netflix the damn thing so I can sit at home, get my wine on, and throw popcorn at the screen every time diCaprio looks constipated or I wish Driver would come in and rescue Carey Mulligan. On the other hand it’s Baz Luhrmann, the man who did the Like A Virgin thing in Moulin Rouge. Which pretty much earned him my undying affection, even if he did get the massively uninteresting Jay-Z somehow deeply involved with the soundtrack.

I find myself longing for pre-Titanic diCaprio. Gilbert Grape. This Boy’s Life. Still, in the trailers he looks less…bloated…than he has in some other films. And Maguire, of course, is a type of Shia laBoeuf upgrade. Still annoying, but at least capable of acting sometimes when the right director tears it out of him. And even if Mulligan is incandescent the storyline leaves very little for her to work with, especially against such dragging weight.

In any case, costumes and parties. Luhrmann does spectacle very well, and maybe the man who made John Leguizamo into the Toulouse-Lautrec will coax something out of his leading men and a hot mess of a novel adaptation. Who knows?

It’s probably time for me to reread Gatsby again, come to think of it. I remember being bored and annoyed with Nick and Jordan the entire way through, wishing I could just hear from Daisy. Even at that tender age–I think I was 10 the first time I attempted it, and have read it three or four times since then–I had the idea that women in “literature” were often canvas screens for male authors to project a sort of fantasy upon.

Not much has changed, even with more novelists who happen to have innies instead of outies, so to speak. (Those women who do get published are often saddled with froufrou covers…) I think I’ve read maybe two male novelists in the past 15 years who manage to have female characters that aren’t at bottom a passive reflection of some male fantasy. Maybe Zelda Fitzgerald could have written marvelous things from Daisy’s point of view, but if she had, would it have received any attention at all? Let alone careful editing and posthumous veneration? (No, I’m not hoping someone else will tell the story from her viewpoint. Wide Sargasso Sea and Scarlett cured me forever of wishing such things.)

Anyway, I read lots of “classics” not for themselves, but to see the product of the times the author lived in, and furthermore to see allusions to them elsewhere. My own private Easter-egg hunts, as it were, through literature. I suppose the movie Gatsby will be somewhat the same–it’s not really about the movie, it’s more about what the movie says about our current state and preoccupations. Another play upon a screen, I guess; but it certainly helps to be conscious one is watching instead of taking it for truth.

Still, I wish someone would keep Jay-Z away from soundtracks. Sigh.

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Which two novelists where those? I’d be interested in reading them. I’ve had a hard time lately with finding a balanced view.
Baz Lurhman has never seemed too terribly interested in sticking to author’s work. Maybe Daisy will be more interesting.
Have you read Bobbed Hair and Bath Tub Gin by Marion Meade? It was great look at Zelda and her contemporaries. She seems like she’d be way more interesting to hang out with than F Scott.


The one I’d recommend is Perez-Reverte’s Queen of the South. Effing AMAZING book, and Teresa is the most fully-fleshed female character I’ve read from a male author in a long, long while.