She thought I knew a lot because I knew different things from her . . .
After 2020, I wanted to start 2021 in the best way possible, with a good book, jazz music in the background, and a flute of rosé sparkling wine. For me, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald never disappoints. It’s been my favourite book since early high school, which, yes, was a time where I didn’t understand a majority of its themes. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald’s writing was incredible. And even with a more adult understanding of the world, the writing is still the best part for me.
Swinging jazz and pink bubbles on New Year’s Day is not only one of the best ways to start the year but also one of the best ways to read The Great Gatsby. I felt rich lounging in my family’s living room in unflattering comfy clothes. I was transported to the most flattering representation of the Jazz Age in America, or perhaps the least flattering, depending on how you look at it. To read The Great Gatsby is to experience both a life through rose-coloured glasses and a tragedy.
However, when I finished it, it sat with me in a way it’s never sat with me before. This is a story I’ve read multiple times, done two papers on, and consider one of my all-time favourites. I remember the ending shocking me the first time I read it, though it felt oddly fitting the second time around. Like this is the way it was always supposed to be. Now, I lay in bed on New Year’s Day and thought the same for the ending of 2020; this is the way it was always supposed to be.
The book ends with this:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.
The Great Gatsby remains iconic and relevant, even in these unprecedented times. Right now, possibly more than ever before, we want to recapture the past. We call these times “the new normal.” We elude to returning to the pre-pandemic normal of the past. Like in the 1920s, the American Dream is in decline. There’s job loss. There’s rioting. There’s economic upheaval. It may not be post-war America, but it’s post-something America. Post-normal, perhaps? Change is upon us, as it was upon Fitzgerald’s characters…