Dear Teenager In Bookstore Who Tells Me She “Hates To Read”:
The Great Gatsby, WHAT THE NO WAY?
Ohmifreakingosh! Holy crap, you HAVE to see this. Hold on. Let me grab a portable, handheld Internet-ready device.
Okay, ready? Watch this.
Oh HELL! The F is this, right?!
Okay, so I’m going to tell you. That opening scene, the one with all those crazy-hot kids in the car and that whacked-out party with the fountains and the champagne (that’s like Patrón with bubbles) and the extreme cheerleading? That stuff really happened back during a time called The Jazz Age. The 1920s. It was sort of a cross between living in The Capitol in The Hunger Games and a Nicki Minaj video. VIP lounge every night. Swag.
The other thing you have to know about The Jazz Age is there was old school cash and the newly fabulous. Think Madonna versus Jesse J, or Dr. Dre/Eminem versus Pitbull. And the newbies wanted a piece of the pop royalty’s action, but the old timers weren’t willing to invite the youngsters behind the last line of velvet ropes.
So this stuff really happened. Like Titanic. Remember how you thought Titanic was just a movie and not a real event? Well, this is the reverse, so flip it: The Great Gatsby takes place during a real time in history, but the story itself is from a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Whoa! Wait, wait, wait! Where are you going?
Don’t give me that “I hate to read” nonsense.
C’mon now, remember that time you were in fourth grade and your mom brought you to the bookstore for the first time because you were begging for those Wimpy Kid books? Remember how I was working that day and convinced your mom to buy the book even though it had a lot of pictures and the text looked like it was doodled with a Sharpie? You tore through those stories, text and all. Read them all before the movie came out.
A few years later, you were back in the store AT MIDNIGHT for a BOOK RELEASE PARTY. Which was it, New Moon or Breaking Dawn? I forget. But, cripes, that book was more than a hundred pages and you had the first four chapters read by the time you reached the cash register. (By the way, I loved your red contact lenses.) Your dad was with you this time, and he expressed concern that you were obsessed with a “ridiculous, poorly-written piece of crap.” Remember how I talked him off his ledge? Reminded him that at least you were reading—were even excited about reading—and there was plenty of time for the classics and real literature like the James Patterson hardcover he was buying?
Dude, every time you’re in the bookstore you tell me you “hate to read”, and yet you always leave with something, even if it’s a J-14 or Teen Vogue magazine. And seriously, you’ve now read over sixteen hundred pages of girls kissing vampires. You even read an entire series about a tomboy archer and her fight against an oppressive government. That was practically a Civics textbook! And guess what? For each of these examples, you totally enjoyed the movie versions.
But you loved the book, right?
So you gotta trust me on this.
The Great Gatsby: love triangles, money, partying, handsome guys, headstrong girls, and a narrator who puts you in his shoes and behind their velvet ropes. Corruption. Materialism. Immorality. There’s a sex scandal and a death or two. Maybe more. Yeah, the language seems a bit old fashioned at times. Just keep a link to the movie trailer on your iTouch if you need a reminder that this was a crazy time when The Beautiful People carried on while other people scraped by.
Ohemgee! When you talk to your Social Studies teacher—the one with the “Occupy Everything” bumper sticker on her Volvo—you could mention that you’re reading Gatsby, and then say that you see the novel as a time-tested commentary on the irresponsibility of some of today’s money-powered youth. Or something. Total extra credit brownie points!
Then get a tattoo of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg’s disembodied eyes on your shoulder. If your mom will let you.
If she says no at first, I recommend blackmail. Threaten to tell your mom’s literary book club friends that you caught her reading Fifty Shades of Poorly Written Smut.
She was in the store and bought a copy last night.
Your Favorite Book Seller