movies: the great gatsby

weymouth center, southern pines, nc

I really hate The Great Gatsby. Not for any reason other than the fact that I love F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I feel like Gatsby is over-taught, boring, and, well — I mean, honestly, I read Tender Is The Night in a bathtub in a hotel in Paris in 2000. How can Gatsby ever compare to that? It can’t. Tender Is The Night remains my favorite Fitzgerald novel, because I read it in a Paris hotel bathtub when I was 20 years old.

I’m looking forward to Baz Lurhmann’s version of Gatsby, though, primarily because I adore Luhrmann’s direction and design. With Tim Burton, he’s one of the modern film directors whose aesthetic moves and inspires me the most. So if he wants to make a movie of possibly my least favorite Great Novel ever, go for it, Baz. At the very least I get to look at it.

There’s two Zelda Fitzgerald books coming out this year. Theresa Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel Of Zelda Fitzgerald is already out; I liked the writing, and I love reading about Zelda, by whom — though I love her husband and his stories — I was always infinitely more fascinated. Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda is out today. The summer after I read Tender Is The Night, I worked in the archives at Carleton, and started reading again, mostly because the archives were down on the first floor of Carleton’s odd enter-on-the-fourth-floor library, with the PS3500s, aka the American fiction. That summer Dear Scott Dearest Zelda was released, the Fitzgeralds’ letters to each other, and I was also reading seriously from the “new releases” room at Carleton’s library, as well. That’s probably my favorite writing F. Scott Fitzgerald has done.

Their marriage wasn’t perfect, and Zelda certainly suffered from some kind of mental illness, and they both drank too much, but when they were in love, they were so terrifically in love. It’s all over their letters.

I would watch a Baz Luhrmann version of the Fitzgeralds’ marriage; I would probably even prefer it to Gatsby. But I will go see the movie, regardless, because Fitzgerald and Zelda are dear to my heart, dear to a point in my life when I reinvented myself and their lives and work influenced me. I am trying to get my head back in the serious photographic work game. I am getting my head back in it, after six months of taking care of myself instead of working.

It feels like that summer, somehow. It feels right that now is when Gatsby’s being released. I hate the book, but there’s such a thing as right place, right time, and since I don’t have a bathtub in Paris at my ready disposal, I will take what I can get.

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