We were down in London on Saturday night and Sunday:
View this post on Instagram
Contemplating the universe… while walking the hound, early on this cool and cloudy morning.🇬🇧🐕🚶🏻♂️🤔😂 . #goodmorning #Enfield #TrentPark #London #England #dogs #pets #travel #humor #views #weekend #writers #authors #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #expats #expatlife #photo
Dog walking, this post began to come to mind as I strolled and simultaneously contemplated the universe…
However, as I posted to Instagram on Saturday, I am reading it now:
And I am struck by this. As I wrote on Insta, I had last read it in full – I think – in high school back on Long Island (way too long ago). A book assigned in school is a kiss of literary death: I hated it.
And that experience “scarred” me I suppose. Maybe I didn’t then “get it” either; maybe being a teen it’s harder to relate to but you understand better when you’re older. Whatever it was, re-reading it now, I’m enjoying it.
That Instagram post unsurprisingly led to a brief comment exchange with Gatsby fan and writer (and college English instructor) Laura Thompson, who agreed with my assigned-in-school “kiss of literary death” assertion. I noted in a comment also:
I feel it’s a book for adults. Re-reading it I realize increasingly why I was bored with it as a teen. The issues and problems are more adult than I think register with kids.
…11th grader is reading this now and bored with it, lol…but my 22 yr old loved it especially since she saw the DiCaprio movie prior to reading it.”
I understand. A film of it influenced her older one’s reading opinion of it. That is not a surprise.
Gatsby having long been a staple of high school (grades 9-12; ages 14-17) English literature classes in the USA, I thought about that fact now as a writer. I’m uncomfortable about it. And here’s why, as I noted in another comment:
Kids learn by being stretched. I felt I was. But they need to be in a manner consistent with their ages. I do think a quirky first person tale about observing the foibles of a Jazz Age rich guy on Long Island and his hangers on and the life-worn-down types around him is a bit of an excessive ask for most 14/15 year olds.
Then this obvious fact hit me, so I added:
…we need to remember the novel’s intended audience was adult readers, not 15 year olds.
Which caused me to think about at whom I aim my own books. A potential reader’s curiosity and interest in the general subject matter are required, of course. The second point is their maturity: I feel the books are okay for up from about college age (meaning 18):
Meaning they are pitched at adult readers, not high schoolers. Yes, I’m sure there are teens who might like them; but I didn’t write them for that audience and I suspect most pre-college age teens would not quite “get them.” They might even – alas, yes; but I am big enough to admit this – be “bored” by them.
Finally this minor gripe about Gatsby from this reader. I still feel – as I did in school – Fitzgerald calling the towns “East Egg” and “West Egg” was dopey. They should’ve been “East Bay” or “West Bay,” or “East Cove” and “West Cove.” If you grew up on Long Island (as I did), you may also “get” what I mean by that… “old sport.”😂
Have a good Monday, wherever you are. 🙂