Party Lights

November 29, 2015 at 8:33 pm (Reviews, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

7744084.jpgTitle: The Summer We Read Gatsby

Author: Danielle Ganek

Publisher: Viking

Genre: Literary Romance

Length: 292 pages

Something about seeing all the Christmas lights go up, and holiday party planning for the winter, led me to this book – despite its summer setting in the Hamptons heat.  I suppose the deep autumn of Texas has similar weather patterns to summertime in the country of New York, but I don’t know as I’ve never been there.  I just know that it’s anywhere from the upper 80’s to the lower 40’s all this Thanksgiving week, depending on the moment and precipitation.

Christmas in Texas always has a flair of Fitzgerald about it to me anyway.  This is the time of year when people pull out garden lights, candles, splashes of extravagant color, sparkly dresses, and dine outside where it’s cool.  This is when we cook breakfast together in over crowded houses and drink mimosas until noon, only to start pouring wine in its place by lunch.  (Naturally we evolve into beer and football by mid afternoon, but that’s not very Gatsby of us is it.  We only have so much ridiculous classy flair before we go full on redneck, after all.)

Still, there’s an appropriate place in my winter heart for this summer read, and I loved every second and every page of this witty little romance that had a Whole Nine Yards touch of mystery.  I say romance, but the romance isn’t as much for *the guy* as it is for a house – Fool’s House – and a pair of sisters.

Ganek didn’t pull any punches, she created a perfect piece of over the top fiction with all the glitter and glam of the overly fictitious.  All those moments you’ve had in your life when you’re staring at people thinking, what a character, they could be in a book.  They are in a book.  This book.  The storytellers, the actors, the gay guy, the foreigners, the artists, the deceased benefactor, the millionaire, the villains, all the archetypes that don’t quite fit their mold… they’re all here, fluttering about like a party of confetti and lights, ready to entertain.

I loved it.  It’s a keeper and I’ll read it again.


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Literary Journal Monday – Gatsby Love

March 25, 2014 at 12:00 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

All About Additional Literary Journal Adventures at Good Books in the Woods

I got to peek at some incoming journals today, they were hanging out on the owner’s desk…


P1010434The American Mercury

The American Mercury was an American magazine published from 1924[1] to 1981. It was founded as the brainchild of H. L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan. The magazine featured writing by some of the most important writers in the United States through the 1920s and 1930s. After a change in ownership in the 1940s, the magazine attracted conservative writers. The magazine went out of print in 1981, having spent the last 25 years of its existence in decline and controversy. – from Wikipedia

So that’s cool, but the real juice is this, here in the June 1924 edition…


For those who don’t know, “Absolution” is important to fans of The Great Gatsby.  Why?  Well, you see, the writing of The Great Gatsby has a rich history.  It may have been published by Scribner in 1925, but Fitzgerald had several previous versions of the literary classic.

In 1923, he had written 18k words for the book that was destined to become The Great Gatsby but scrapped most of what he had written and began again.  These scraps can be found peppered throughout literature under different headings and titles – titles like “Absolution.”

“I’m glad you liked Absolution.  As you know it was to have been the prologue of the novel but it interfered with the neatness of the plan,” Fitzgerald wrote his editor.  The novel in question was none other than The Great Gatsby.


The above letter is a page from Dear Scott/ Dear Max: The Fitzgerald – Perkins Correspondence.

So many neat things can be found inside the pages of literary journals and I’m enjoying discovering the treasures.

Somewhat unrelated, but definitely something for the Fitzgerald collector that I found while researching this post, are some wonderful embellished journals.  The creators have taken the first handwritten page of The Great Gatsby and imprinted it on the cover of leatherbound journals.  So beautiful:

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Short Stories

February 27, 2012 at 11:25 pm (Reviews) (, )

Title: Tales of the Jazz Age

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Publisher: Penguin Classic

Genre: Fiction, Literature, Short Stories

Length: 227 pages

I’m not a short story girl, but I love Fitzgerald, and there are short story writers in the world with whom I’ve been known to fall in love.  ZZ Packer is one of those writers; how can you go wrong with a woman willing to title her collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere?  A fellow blogger has a review posted here:  So despite my general distaste for short stories at large, Fitzgerald has won me over again with lines like: “[…] I won’t kiss you. It might get to be a habit and I can’t get rid of habits.”

In general, I usually find the short story too short and too long at the same time.  Too short, because I want a full length saga, I love knowing every blessed thing about a character before I part with them.  Too long, because I know they will end soon so, without fail, I anticipate the ending with agony long before the story has even truly begun.  I don’t have this problem as much with Fitzgerald, mainly because I am completely engrossed with his writing and don’t get the chance to lament over the length of his tale.

So many people get bored with Fitzgerald, and I will never fully understand why.  The best one lined quotes come from dear old F.Scott, the kind of quotes that remind you of people you used to know and how they were at their core, quotes that draw out moments long forgotten from the recesses of your memories.  I fell in love with Fitzgerald in high school when it was all about the beauty of symbolism and the art of writing a literary masterpiece, now I cherish his writing for the beauty of the story and the art of showing off the true colors of humanity.

I had a hard time picking a favorite out of this short story collection, but put a gun to my head and make me choose and I think I liked Head and Shoulders best.  Benjamin Button is a brilliant story, but I liked the writing of Head and Shoulders better.

Not limited to Fitzgerald, what’s your favorite short story?

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Inner Voices and Elizabeth Kostova

January 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Title: The Swan Thieves

Author: Elizabeth Kostova

Publisher: Little, Brown

Genre: Fiction

Length: 561 pages

Buy Work by Kostova

There are writers whose voices fall in step with some inner voice of my own.  They have a seamless and perfect tambour that has no problem intertwining and conversing with the language of my soul.  F.Scott Fitzgerald is one of those writers, Tanya Egan Gibson is one of those writers, John Steinbeck is one of those writers – their sentence structures find a rhythm that beats to my own personal drum.

Elizabeth Kostova is not one those writers.

Her stories are so fascinating.  I have every desire to read everything she’s ever written.  But making that desire a reality is a struggle.  I find myself saying “Just get through this chapter so you can find out what happens next,” both in The Historian and The Swan Thieves.

Therefore, as I’m reading The Swan Thieves, I feel as though I am not the right person to review her books.  Kostova is talented and inspiring: such captivating stories! such a high word count for a debut novel! (The Historian was a little over 241k words) such interesting ideas! But she just doesn’t speak to me.

When I come across books like these I become exceptionally curious.  I’d like to know who she does speak to, what’s the difference in our brains? Is it a geographical dialect issue? Do I not follow her phrasing because my inner voice is either southern, British, or some indistinguishable ‘Yankee’ and she speaksMichigan? I don’t know, I’ve never been toMichigan.  Please read it yourself and come discuss with me, I’d like to find out!

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The Still Great Gatsby

January 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Publisher: Collins Classics/ HarperPress

Genre: Fiction

Length: 140 pages

“I hate The Great Gatsby, it’s so boring,” my husband exclaimed when he saw me re-reading Fitzgerald’s novel.

“Boring!? How can you say that? Something happens in every sentence!”

Since I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school English class, I was enamored by Fitzgerald and the magical world of symbolism he weaves. I dreamed of writing something that had as much depth, as many layers. As a 16 year old, I was blinded by that symbolism, all I saw was the green light, the yellow car, the envy, the American Dream. I was caught up in the use of the names Daisy and Myrtle. I was dazzled by the colors and the literary devices.

As an adult with a husband, daughter, and home, for the first time I see the simplicity of the story. I see the story no one talks about, the one beyond the green light and the yellow car. This time I see the beauty of a narrator who is sucked into a world and is omniscient in that world, but is never quite a part of it – like William Miller in Almost Famous. This time I see the epic, but typical, sadness in a story about greed, love, and regret.

If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties and haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school, I recommend that you do. It looks so different, but still great, from here.

*About this edition: The Collins Classics edition is a dandy little pocket paperback, and actually would serve well for students. There are definitions of words and phrases that are used differently than what is typical. I’d recommend it to teachers who require their kid’s to all have the same edition.

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