BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘So We Read On’ by Maureen Corrigan

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.

‘So We Read On’ by Maureen Corrigan

Of course, you’re already a Gatsby fan if you choose this book, but the author’s skills are a revelation to me, despite listening to her book reviews forever on NPR’s Fresh Air.

She’s a charming combination of a fangirl and an academic, and her analysis of her 100+ reads of the book seems spot on. There’s a bit of shuck on the total whiteness of the novel (except for some blatant racism and, also, contempt for women), but seeing as it was published in 1925, that’s a given.

What’s less palatable is her disinterest in Zelda Fitzgerald, and especially in her respectable novel “Save Me the Waltz.”

Corrigan’s tracking down of source documents and reading of Fitzgerald’s letters reveals his overwhelming desire to be critically and popularly acclaimed, which did not happen until after his death at 44.

The book is a brilliant balance between the real Fitzgerald and the characters Gatsby and narrator Nick, and if she seems to conflate them at times, she’s forgiven. There are remarkable insights into the language, structure, and characters, and Corrigan may yet convince you that this is the Great American Novel.

Quote from a Fitzgerald letter: “The whole burden of this novel is the loss of those illusions that give such color of the world, so that you don’t care whether things are true or false as long as they partake of the magical glory.”

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