A friend asked me recently to name my favorite book and for the hundredth time I felt a shiver of apology as I reluctantly muttered the words, The Great Gatsby.
Why the apology? I don’t really know.
All I do know is that I’ve never been able to find a book the equal of Gatsby when it came to that thing called magic—the ability of a book to rise above its covers and embrace you in a way you may never understand but will never forget.
It’s more than character, more than plot. Like so many things in life, it doesn’t have to be explained. It’s either there or it isn’t—in the characters, the plot, the location, the mood, the period, the style—all the elements working together, magically.
Thousands of authors have tried to capture the magic of Gatsby in their novels. Hunter Thompson is said to have typed out the entire novel on a typewriter in hopes of improving his writing style.
Magic like Gatsby is not transferrable. You have to create your own.
Movies have spent millions trying to recreate Gatsby. Robert Redford tried to be Gatsby but he wound up being Robert Redford trying to be Gatsby. The magic wasn’t there.
Leonardo DiCaprio is giving Gatsby his best shot in a movie coming our way soon, and I wish him well. His Gatsby may be a tremendous critical and box office success. But magic like Gatsby is not for sale and it’s not transferrable.
It’s just plain magic, period.
Causes William Ong Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center