A few hours ago, I finished re-reading The Great Gatsby. I hadn’t read Fitzgerald’s classic novel since I was in my 30s, and now I’m reaching the end of my 40s. When I got to the last page, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The last seven pages are so brilliant that they literally take my breath away. I wanted to laugh in one way – the last section makes me feel like I’m racing down a hill and can’t stop. It feels like what Fitzgerald is doing can’t possibly be done, but he did it anyway. The sentences are so beautiful, I wanted to stop after each one and marvel at it. When I finished the book this time, I thought…well, there it is. He said everything. Those pages also make me want to cry in the way some people are moved by a work of art or the last movement of one of Beethoven’s symphonies. It’s all there: the pain caused by our desires, the power of social class, and the cyclical and bittersweet nature of the whole thing.
If I quoted a sentence here, you could appreciate its technical perfection, but it’s because they come at the end of the story that these pages are so moving. You have to get there with Nick Carroway. If it’s been over a decade since you last read The Great Gatsby, I would encourage you to pull it out again. It’s a very different reading experience than it was in your teens or even your 30s.