‘Great Gatsby’ Mansion on Long Island Sells

For many, The Great Gatsby, is an all-time favorite read. Which is why I was so jealous to hear that a Gatsby’s mansion (F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s mansion inspiration, at least), has sold! From these photo’s, you can definitely see a resemblance in Fitzgerald’s descriptions from the novel:

“…the one on the right was a colossal affair by any standard–it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion. Or rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. ” -Page 9


Note: This is not the only mansion said to be ‘the’ inspiration for Gatsby’s mansion.

  • Kahn Estate or Oheka Castle on the Gold Coast of Long Island is also said to be a partial inspiration (photo here)
  • Colonial mansion on the North Shore of Long Island was also said to be an inspiration, however, has since been demolished (click here to read article and check out some photos)

I read so hard…libraries try to find me

You never know what wonders await in a deep sea trench...

Adventures in reading classic lit can be compared to Alice going down the rabbit hole or James Cameron visiting the Mariana Trench.  You’ll never know how long you can go until you’ve read IT all. Which is why when I feel stuck, wanting to be introduced to another great read, I find inspiration and recommendation in everyday media.  Such as this YouTube video, Bitches in Bookshops (based on Jay Z & Kanye West’s ”N*ggas in Paris). Some great classic lit recommendations in here and if you are an avid reader, I think you’ll find yourself nodding your head as these ladies try their hand at rap.

B*tches in Bookshops (based on Jay Z and Kanye West’s “N*ggas in Paris”)

Free Air by Sinclair Lewis

If you have never heard of Sinclair Lewis before, you can think of him as F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s counterpart. He also published during the ‘roaring twenties,’ but wrote of many different classes of people. It seems he especially liked yoking together characters from high society and low society, to see how they get along. This yoking together is exactly what he does in Free Air (April 1922), the seventh of twenty-six novels he has written.

Similar to what we envision of the 1920’s, Lewis’ prose comes across as high and fast. The high part revealing the lofty and romantic language he uses throughout the novel (taken from the upper class); the fast part is revealed in long run-on sentences that the characters speak and seems to work particularly well in this time period.

Before I continue with my review of Free Air, I want to note that in 1930 Lewis won the Nobel Prize for literature and as a prize recipient, was required to write a short autobiography on his career so far. I strongly recommend anyone considering being an author (or currently in the struggles of becoming one) take a peak (you will also notice his ‘high and fast’ language here). My favorite quote from this autobiography comes at the very end where he reveals his ever-present satire: “I am settled down to what I hope to be the beginning of a novelist’s career. I hope the awkward apprenticeship with all its errors is nearly done.” Only after writing 14 novels and winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, does he finally allow himself to truely ‘begin’ his career as a novelist.

Free Air can be summed up as a book about the great American road trip. Claire Boltwood and takes her father Mr. Boltwood on a cross country car trip from New York city all the way to Seattle, WA. Although Claire describes their financial situation to be mediocre, I found out that they really are a part of the elite New York society that was akin to British royalty in the 1920’s. The road trip is full of humor and character building crisis’ for Claire (the modern reader will find the description of the roads very insightful due to their practical non-existence; all back country road, mud and the occasional small town). And it is in one of the first small city stops that they make do they run into Milt Daggett, the owner of the local car shop. At first sight, Daggett falls for Claire and what will only sound as creepy in this summary, decides then and there to follow her and her father all the way to Seattle. Stalker? Knight in shining armor? That is what I will leave for you to find out if you read Free Air.

This book was popular enough on its publication to have been made into a silent film in 1922, starring Tom Douglas as Milt Daggett and Marjorie Seaman as Claire Boltwood.

Big Brother VS. Little Brother: LITTLE BROTHER

LITTLE BROTHER: Little Brother by Corey Doctrow (2008)

This novel is a fantastic reinterpretation of George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four and is written for teens. I found that Doctrow did a good job at reinventing this classic and found he made the world Orwell created in Nineteen Eighty-Four more relatable to us who were born after 1984. This book made me laugh a lot and I found myself really caring for the main character “w1n5t0n.”  This is definitely one of the more literary YA novels that I have read in while.  For all you teachers out there, don’t torture today’s student with 1984, but perhaps, let them read Little Brother….just saying!

Summary: Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Out of Print: T-Shirt Designs Inspired by the Classics

This online store, , not only prints graphic T’s with some of the best covers from classic literature, but they have a unique mandate of supporting a great cause. For each piece of clothing bought, one book gets donated to a community in need through their partner Books for Africa.

So take a look at their website, Out of Print, and feel good about supporting classic literature.

Here are some of my favorite T’s:

To read my review of The Great Gatsby, click here.

To read my review of Lolita, click here.

Big Brother VS. Little Brother: BIG BROTHER

BIG BROTHER: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was written in 1949 and is a dystopian science fiction novel about the future of America. It is everything the liberals fight against: mind control, perpetual war, government surveillance and propaganda.

Overall, I found this novel very hard to read and complete.  It portrays a very unreasonable society where ignorance is praised and common sense is punished. As you can read on the poster to the left, this is just one example of the many propaganda we are shown and it is very hard to swallow.  The main character, Winston Smith, is our guide through the new regime and Orwell does an amazing job of making the reader feel as uncomfortable as Winston does about how his world is being run.  He has absolutely no freedom: Big Brother is always watching!

Winston is part of a small group of non-believers who don’t agree with the government (it’s less of a movement, and more of a natural instinct), and these non-believers come in many different strands.  Julia, for example, is the character Winston “falls in love with” (which in this society, love is not allowed, nor does it exist). Coincidently, Julia feels the same for Winston and they steel away to the country, far from any eyes of Big Brother to break the law and participate in illegal love making. Winston is elated at finding another non-believer, but then he realizes that Julia does believe in Big Brother whole-heartedly, except when it comes to restricting love.

This book has been made in to many different movies, but here is the 1984 version of Nineteen Eighty-Four:

Overall, I tend to read for pleasure and this novel was anything but a pleasurable read. If you decide to take the leap and try reading this widely popular classic, good luck and don’t give up!

Pills 101 – Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Valley of  the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann is described as a cult classic that boasts having sold more than 30 million copies world-wide. It was first published in 1966 and became an instant success. Jacqueline Susann became the first female author to sell such quantities of her novels, helping to pave the way for future female fiction writers, especially in the genre of chic-lit.

What are dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight.

Valley of the Dolls chronicles the lives of three female characters in New York City beginning in 1945, oscillating from each females point-of-view from ‘chapter’ to ‘chapter’ (I use the term ‘chapter’ lightly because they are more like ‘sections’). There is Anne, escaping from a life of expectation and tradition in Lawrenceville, Massachusetts. The novel opens with her perspective and I found this first part hard to get through because Anne is very well-bred and with that comes very little excitement. However, as the novel progresses and you are faced with the calamities of the other pill popping dolls, Anne becomes the one constant I came to look forward to.

Next we are introduced to Neely, the bright faced vaudeville performer with light aspirations of ‘making it big’ on the stage of New York or the movies. Neely is a few years younger than Anne and looks up to her for help and guidance.  It is Anne in the end who provides Neely with her big break and she shoots to super-stardom, but of course, popping too many dolls along the way.I thought I would enjoy Neely’s sections the most since she is always on the go, but whether we blame the pills or world-wide success, Neely ends up being nothing but an ungrateful b****!

Finally we meet Jennifer, the stunning beauty who has a controlling mother at home.  Jennifer’s mother is the sole reason she continues to seek out rich men (because of her constant nag to send money home), but in the end, Jennifer makes it on her own as an actress in Paris. I would say Jennifer ended up being my favorite section to read, but was sad they were cut short…

The three girls briefly live together when they are between marriages and each finds solace and destruction when using dolls. If you like the television show Mad Men, this novel reminds me of the era it portrays 100%, except we focus on three successful women, who still live under the stigma of being nothing without a man.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel and once I got through the first section I could not put it down (finished in about 1 week!).  I think this is a great novel, especially for young girls to read, since it teaches you about humility, drugs, sex and love. Viva la sexual revolution! However, this does not stop it from ending on a very sad note… (which I of course will not give away!).

This novel was also turned into a movie in 1967. Below is ‘part 1’  found on YouTube (the entire movie can be watched here): Overall, I thought the movie did an amazing adaptation of the novel.  The three fierce actresses embodied Susann’s creations of Anne, Neely and Jennifer to pick-perfection. It even helped me better understand motives I found a little foggy in the novel.  But overall, I recommend reading the novel and then the movie or vice-versa.