The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1926)

I’ve read this several times. Gets me every time.

Dang, the man could write. No mean feat, given his marshmallows were well toasted most of the time.

To give a sound a colour without blinking like the ‘orchestra… playing yellow cocktail music’ is pretty, pretty cool. And he’s right – it is yellow. I can hear it drifting across the lawn down to the water’s edge. Eat your heart out, Kandinsky.

Can you smell the talc in this?

Daisy watched him and laughed, her sweet, exciting laugh; a tiny gust of powder rose from her bosom into the air.

I can. I also see pale pink and alabaster.

And then, whoosh! Away from the colourful jazz and clean breasts and down to earth with a sigh on how things really are elsewhere for the others, the masses of less fortunate. For those not protected by prosperity.

There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.

And,

…I tossed half-sick between grotesque reality and savage, frightening dreams.

Fitzgerald lifts you up and lifts you up some more – and then drops you.

She had caught a cold, and it made her voice huskier and more charming than ever, and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.

Well, there you go. We all might as well pocket our pens and stop trying. Ah, the pointlessness of hot struggles.

And then there’s that last paragraph, if you haven’t topped yourself already.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

That futility again.

Thanks for being here.

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Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (2009)

Hello. Thanks for dropping by. My first blog post – yikes.

I love reading. And I love to clock notable style as I come across it.

Maybe you’re a kindred soul who does the same or similar? If so, let’s kick over our bar stools and have some fun.

Maybe we can chew some fat on those magical moments when we come across a choice of word or the way of saying something that makes one leap up and pace the room saying, ‘Yes, they nailed it. That’s the perfect way of putting it.’ I love that feeling.

And I love great style, humour, brilliant dialogue. All personal opinion, of course.

Enough already. I’ll stop fannying around and get stuck in…

(Oh, at some stage I might link to places where you can buy the book I’m talking about. I might even get a penny or two from the bookseller if you go on to buy. Hope you don’t mind that. Everyone seems to be doing it these days. But I’ll more than likely forget – or can’t be bothered. Ta.)

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (2009)

This book still stands out over ten years later as a compelling read. Shocking and depressing in places, it made me dramatically cut back on the animals I eat (yeuch, sounds monstrous saying it like that). The veg/vegan thing for me is still a work in progress. But I’m getting there.

Foer wrote the book when a father for the first time. A time when you stand back and take stock of the world around you, your part in it – and the road ahead. Get this…

A few days after we came home from the hospital, I sent a letter to my friend, including a photo of my son and some first impressions of fatherhood. He responded, simply, “Everything is possible again.” [Love that line.] It was the perfect thing to write, because that was exactly how it felt. We could retell our stories and make them better, more representative or aspirational. Or we could choose to tell different stories. The world itself had another chance.

Bingo. Here’s to hope. Great start to a good book.

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