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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 10 months, 2 weeks ago

25 January 2021 THE GREAT GATSBY: A GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION by K. Woodman-Maynard, Candlewick, January 2021, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-5362-1676-9


“At the end of Gatsby, when Fitzgerald writes the famous ‘boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’ -- I think he believes that. I think at least for the moment of that book, Fitzgerald did have an expansive ideal he wanted to mention. But he doesn’t end in such a way to eulogize his characters. He wants readers to be complicitous in his hopefulness but skeptical because of what history has -- or should have -- taught them.”

-- author Ann Beattie in an interview in Contemporary Literature (1990)


The Great Gatsby is set in the Roaring Twenties, twenty miles outside of Manhattan, on a pair of rounded peninsulas that nose out into Long Island Sound. Forty years later, in the days of Kennedy vs Nixon, I was a little kid in the nearby suburbs. When we drove to the beach, we passed through posh places like Matinecock, Mill Neck, and Lattingtown. I still recall the vast green horse pastures bordered by immaculate white wooden fences that ran hypnotically for mile after mile after mile. Even today, a hundred years post-Gatsby, many of these villages retain their exclusivity with an average density of two-plus acres for every man, woman, and child residing there. Gatsby’s nearby world was quite a contrast with the fifty-by-hundred lots that made up our modest neighborhood full of Baby Boomer kids.


I remember reading The Great Gatsby the first time. I had the good fortune of being assigned to a freshman lit class at UConn taught by a talented young grad student named Ann Beattie. Her then-husband and fellow future author David Gates regularly participated in the class discussions. Those sessions were quite a leap from high school English.


“They were careless people,

Tom and Daisy--they smashed 

up things and creatures and then

retreated back into their money.


Or their vast carelessness. 


Or whatever 

it was that kept

them together, and

let other people 

clean up the mess

they made…”


This notable adaptation of Gatsby in a graphic novel format tweeks the story and dialogue to better suit the format. Overall, the story is recognizable and engaging, a positive introduction to the American classic. I like that text is frequently incorporated into the illustrations, rather than superimposed over or set below the images. The illustrations are done in watercolor and digital. 

This adaptation is perfect for eighth- and ninth-grade readers, but will serve as a valuable introduction to Gatsby for any and all high school students.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Pickshttp://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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