We are not in the habit of putting ourselves into the shoes of an author’s protagonist. After all we each spend much of our time arguing to readers and each other that our own protagonists are based on the other guy. Reading The Great Gatsby was done with the intent to write this review, simply a way to capitalize on a hot topic – much the way Vampire Vic started. And then we got excited and entangled, again just like with VV. Except this time there’s no dispute, we are obviously both Jay Gatsby.
First of all, who knew F. Scott F. could write? Valid assumption on our part – somebody led us to believe Gatsby was the Roaring Twenties anthem, the story of glitz, glamour and excesses. All packaging and scant content, with an early, abrupt and well-deserved expiration, the period and the book, no longer relevant. Somebody must have led us to believe that, because that’s what we thought, and we don’t just come up with ideas all by ourselves.
Turns out Gatsby is about people. Well-drawn people with timeless problems, just like you and us. Well, more like us, and that brings us back to the mirror, turning the page to get another look at Jay Gatsby and seeing Harris Gray, as played by Leo DiCaprio.
We join the story in the Plaza Hotel on a stiflingly hot New York afternoon. Tom Buchanan has just realized he’s in danger of losing Daisy’s love – you know, his readership.
Harris Gray: “Look old sport, Daisy’s found a story she loves. And at a reasonable price, only $0.99 on Kindle.”
Tom (looking a lot like a composite of John Grisham, Dan Brown and Charlaine Harris, i.e., Tom Hanks): “Nonsense. Daisy’s perfectly happy reading my stories. Ninety-nine cents? You don’t know her at all. Daisy could care less.”
Daisy (she’s hard to describe…good looking if slightly androgynous, intelligent, possibly wearing reading glasses): “Damn you Tom, I can be price conscious.”
Tom: “Look at Harris Gray, Daisy. He’s nothing but a damned swindler. Is that what you want? For crying out loud, he’s self–published.”
Harris Gray: “First of all, Thomas, for the umpteenth time, it’s they, plural. One name, two guys – get it? Secondly, Daisy, no! Don’t look at us that way! So what, we’re self-published, what’s the diff? Story is story and money’s money! Look at this suit we’re wearing—suits, plural, sorry—ain’t they the finest? Like buttah, pink buttah. The gentlemen’s shop didn’t care whether we were endorsing over a check from Scribner’s or the Amazon Kindle Select program. And neither should you! Daisy! Daisy…please, your eyes are suddenly so distant.” We paste that unruly lock of hair back behind our ear. Ears. “Honey, old sweetie sport, here, open your Kindle and lose yourself in our novel. Look, you’re already 79% complete, and you said you were lovin’ it. Remember, Daisy? Daisy…?”
But of course it’s too late now, F. Scott F. and his alter ego Tom has exposed us, right alongside poor Gatsby. Pulled back our cover, thumbed to the copyright page and pointed at the words “CreateSpace”, where “Simon & Schuster” should be. Time to climb back in our roadster and head home.
We will however part ways with Jay G. on the tragic ending. Yes, we desperately want Daisy to love us, and no, she isn’t leaving Tom. But Daisy really likes to read, and Tom just isn’t capable of fully satisfying his lady. We the self-published will go on tempting her with blog posts, tweets and free days, and Daisy will continue to dabble with us. Unlike the obsessed Gatsby, we can live with dabbling. And now that our dark secret has been revealed, we can finally take off these pink suits.