Because of the influence of the “Writer’s Corner” wine bar, with all the portraits of classic authors on the walls, I had an idea!
I would start up “Writer Dave’s Classic Book Club”. I wanted to get back into the classics, many of which I’ve heard of, but haven’t read. If I did read one, I didn’t uncover the hidden meanings of the book.
I would hold meetings at my house once a month to discuss a classic book that the members would read before the meeting.
I put an advert in the local paper and got back four replies, two men and two women:
LLC-a man that only went by his initials! He said he was retired and had done many things in his life.
Tom-an elderly gent, who said he was an amateur actor.
Linda-a middle-aged lady, who reads to escape her routine.
Marla-a young woman, just graduated from university. She was not sure what to do with her life, but she loved books.
A good group to discuss the classics intelligently. I told them our first book to discuss would be “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Our first meeting would be in a month’s time.
THE FIRST MEETING
We were all seated in a semi-circle around the fire in my lounge. Everyone had a cup of coffee and the discussion began.
“I’d like to start with a little background on the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1896 to 1940. He lived only 44 years. He coined the phrase, “The Jazz Age” to describe the 1920’s. He and his wife, Zelda, were great party-goers until she got mentally ill. He was one of the American writers who were dubbed, “The Lost Generation”, along with Hemingway and Dos Passos.”
I was holding their attention, that was good!
“I am Writer Dave and I am as interested in the classics as you people are. I hope we will learn about and enjoy these books together. I first read “The Great Gatsby” many years ago, when I was in High School. I was 17 years old and it was required reading. We all have heard about these books, and maybe we’ve read a few, but most of us probably didn’t really understand them completely. There are lots of hidden insights to be extracted from the classics.”
“What is the definition of a classic?’ said LLC.
“That’s a good question. I like to think of a classic as a written work that is both “TIMELESS” and “TIMELY”. They have been read through the years but they have insights that are relevant even today!”
I took a sip of my coffee.
“Can someone give me a summary of the book in less than 100 words?”
LLC spoke up, “Poor Gatsby needs to obtain wealth to marry Daisy, his love. He becomes wealthy, gives lavish parties and finds her again, but she is married. They have an affair but Daisy finds out about his mysterious business dealings. She stays with her husband. Gatsby takes Daisy home from N.Y. in his car, but she drives. Daisy hits her husband’s mistress and kills her. The mistress’s husband finds out it was Gatsby’s car and shoots Gatsby and himself. Only Nick, the narrator, and Gatsby’s father attend the funeral. Complete disillusionment at the end.”
“Very good, LLC” The club members broke out in applause!
“Anything to add to that description?”
“The book was about the “American Dream” and Gatsby was a self-made man but by questionable means,” said Marla.
“Good answer. Now, what drove him on?”
“Greed and love, an explosive combination,” said Tom.
“Did you find yourself lost in the book, was it a page turner?”
“Oh yes, I was living the characters, second hand,” said Linda.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, Linda. This story gives us a portrait of 1920’s wealth, parties, dreams and tragedy.”
I warmed everyone’s coffee up and continued:
“Was the book autobiographical? Yes, it was to a degree,” I answered my own question. “Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, lived a wild party life until the novelty wore out and Zelda got ill. She liked the good life so Fitzgerald needed to make money with his books.”
“I think all writer’s work is autobiographical to an extent. It’s like a map of their mind. You can understand what their concerns are, what their obsessions are, and what interests them,” said Marla.
“Marla, that is very true.”
“So, did you get any insights from The Great Gatsby?”
“The message I got was that we all hope we can free ourselves from our origins. In other words throw off the shackles of “Class’’. We want to invent ourselves and shape ourselves through hard work. We are NOT measured by our parent’s background and class but what we make of ourselves,” said Tom.
“Well said, Tom.”
LLC spoke up, “I’d like to live the party life and dive into swimming pools with my whiskey on the rocks!”
We all laughed.
“Well, that lightened this discussion up,” I smiled.
“It was a story of flawed people pursuing happiness,” said Linda.
I warmed my coffee up and took a sip.
“I’d like to play the part of Gatsby,” said Tom smiling.
“The green light was mentioned in the novel, what was that all about?
“It was not just a green light that Gatsby saw across the bay, but a “GO” signal to meet the fulfillment of his dream with Daisy,” said LLC.
I continued the thought, “Also, I think Gatsby knew he would have to act fast and met the green light, which was the future, but year by year it recedes before us, less and less future!”
“So, to sum up, Gatsby didn’t get his gratification of the love of Daisy. The book is about the excesses of capitalism in the 1920’s. The “Dream” never measures up to the reality. The gratification never measures up to the dream!”
Linda got up and said, “I liked the story, I’m going to buy the DVD!”