‘Great Gatsby’ is one of the best American stories we have

Updated

Let me finish tonight with this.

There’s a reason “The Great Gatsby,” written nine decades ago, is back again at the top of the best sellers list. It’s the reason it’s so many people’s favorite novel, and has been so since they met it in high school.

It’s about two great themes.

One is love… in this case the love of a poor boy for a rich girl. That it can work is a very American idea; that it may be doomed to failure is also a very American idea. We really don’t know how to deal with class in this country - and that makes for the pain but also the romance, because here, unlike in England, it just might happen.

The other theme, unique to America, is self-creation. We’re a self-created country. Why wouldn’t we be the land of self-created people?

Jay Gatsby put together his name, a load of money from bootlegging and other crooked enterprises, a lot of hope and decided to trade it all in for the girl he couldn’t afford when he was another poor soldier heading off to war.

Gatsby was a dreamer, a great one. He hoped not just to be a man of money but of “old” money, the kind that Daisy Buchanan, his dream girl, would value.

And so he beat on against the current, through the best American story we have.

And so we ourselves beat on, hoping that this latest adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” will carry the experience we got reading all those times, the feeling of being in the presence of a true American dreamer - the kind of person who built this country - and who matched his dreams with a really good try

'Great Gatsby' is one of the best American stories we have

Updated