Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last of the magnolia

Is there a more brilliant book that The Great Gatsby? Satiric, tragic and elegiac, I think it's one of the best short novels I've read.
Once I wrote down on the empty spaces of a time-table the names of those who came to Gatsby's house that summer. It is an old time-table now, disintegrating at its folds, and headed 'This schedule in effect July 5th, 1922'. But I can still read the grey names, and they will give you as better impression than my generalities of those who accepted Gatsby's hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him.

From East Egg, then, came the Chester Beckers and the Leeches, and a man named Bunsen, whom I knew at Yale, and Doctor Webster Civit, who was drowned last summer up at Maine. And the Hornbeams and the Willie Voltaires, and a whole clan named Blackbuck, who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses like goats at whoever came near. And the Ismays and the Chrysties (or rather Hubert Auerbach and Mr Chrystie's wife), and Edgar Beaver, whose hair, they say, turned cotton-white one winter afternoon for no good reason at all.
And so on, for another beautiful, hilarious page and a half ...

 F. Scott Fitzgerald's tone is always perfect. This is writing that is about a good as it gets.

 Best read in the afternoon, lying on a sagging sofa on the veranda with the last of the early-flowering magnolia scenting the air, with Caitlin Rose's album The Stand In playing on the stereo. I like the song, 'Silver Sings' (though all of them are a marvel); and she also does a lovely cover of 'Dallas', by the Felice Brothers (from Celebration Florida).

I am so going to Nashville next year.

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